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Parenthood is so life changing that you almost don’t know what hit you. Raising a little one, whether they are babies, toddlers, pre-teens or teenagers is the most important and difficult job you will ever do. The MUM Life  consumes and becomes you.

I remember when I was a kid I would look at my parents and I thought they knew everything. I thought that had everything together. I had no idea the pressure and fear they must have felt every time I entered a new phase of life.  Now as a parent, I realise that no one knows what they are doing. Parenting is basically just winging it and hoping you raise happy, respectful kids. AND the scary part is that my son probably looks at me the same way and thinks I have all the answers.

This section of the blog is dedicated to all my fellow mothers. I don’t know what I am doing. I am learning as I go along. However here I will document what I have learnt along the way to hopefully help you. To give you hope and let you know that we are all in this together.

The Ups and Downs of my baby’s first day of nursery

So the day had finally arrived, the day I had been craving for so long, the day my little boy spent his first whole day in nursery. Coming up to the event, I could not wait. Almost a year with him constantly stuck to me like a little gumball, there was finally a little light at the end of the tunnel. I was going to have a day of peace every week. A day where I could take a long hot shower, a day I could finally read a book, a day where I could actually go to the toilet without having him banging on the door or worse clinging to my legs. Ew!

So as I woke up in the morning, listing all the productive things I was going to do that day, I couldn’t help but feel a tiny ball in my stomach. Was it the anticipation? The pent up excitement over my first day alone in almost a year? Or was it something else?

Getting myself and Gabriel ready that morning I couldn’t help but feel sad for my poor little pet gremlin. He had no idea that he was to spend the whole day at nursery without me. Would he miss me? Would he give trouble when he was dropped off or would he too, be happy to get some space? Yessss I can finally play instead of having her stop me from licking my snot and rubbing it on the couches . I am such an asshole parent.

cwot3441Gabriels first drawing: I don’t think he is going to be the next Picasso….

But when we arrived at the nursery, I shouldn’t have worried because as I went to kiss my son goodbye and wish him a good day he completely pied me! and when I say pied, I mean PIED. He wouldn’t even look at me because he was so excited to play with the other kids, and as I went in to kiss him I was greeted with his hand smacking my kiss away as he turned his back to me. Ouch! I guess he wasn’t going to miss me.

On the way home, I could feel that tiny ball in my stomach growing bigger until I found myself choking the tears away. What is wrong with you?? You are finally FREE! I thought, except I wasn’t. Even though it was great having my long awaited hot shower and having a bit of time to get things done, I couldn’t help but watch the clock. After a year of moaning how I needed time to myself, when I finally got it I found myself missing my little boy. The realisation that this was the beginning of his independence from me brought me to tears. He now has a life that I don’t know about or am apart of. Something I will need to get used to as he gets older.

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As the time went by I was eager to pick him up and see how his day had been and wondered if he had missed me? Peaking through the window, I saw him sitting with one of the nursery staff reading a book and couldn’t help but feel a little pang of disappointment at seeing no sign of distress. Taking it as meaning he had enjoyed our day apart, more than I had.

But as we walked in and found out how his day had been, to my surprise I was greeted with a huge emotional hug and covered in a million baby kisses. After all my anticipation for my first day alone, that moment turned out to be the best part of my day.

Cherish each and every moment you have with your little ones. The good, the bad and the ugly. You may wish for more ‘you’ time and reminisce about the amazing life you had pre kids but in the end you will miss the times they wake you up in the middle of the night just for a cuddle. I learned that instead of wishing this time away, enjoy it as it will not last very long.

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My struggle with Post-Partum Health Anxiety

As the new year begins, I reflect over the past year with fondness, nostalgia and regret. Last year was one of the most rewarding yet challenging years of my life. It was the best year yet the most fearful. Becoming a mother has filled my heart with love that I never knew I was capable of and at the same time a fear that seemed to consume me.
I didn’t understand what was happening at the start and it started gradually. I was happy, completely happy with our new family and besotted with this gorgeous bundle we had made. I loved being a mum, it was tiring and demanding but I loved every minute of it. I wanted time to slow down so I could really cherish every single moment I had with my baby who I knew would grow up too fast. So when our Health Visitor breached the subject of Postpartum Depression I shot it down straight away. I wasn’t depressed, I was over the moon!

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It started with little intruding thoughts here and there, “What if I fell down the stairs with the baby while my fiancé is offshore” and “What if another car hit me while I was driving with the baby in the car”, but I managed to shrug them off until about 3 months postpartum when I started getting joint pain. I first had a little pain in one knee, then my fingers started clicking, until one morning I woke to find my thumb and forefingers were all bent and stiff. After a  trip to the doctor, I was referred to a Rheumalogist and that is when it all began. I became a google doctor, googling my symptoms every moment I could, to the point my fiancé had to take my phone and computer away from me. By the time I actually saw the Rheumatologist I had convinced my self I had an auto-immune disease and was going to die or be crippled. Fortunately the Rheumatologist confirmed that I have nothing of the sort and that it is common for women to experience joint pains after pregnancy.

My relief was only short lived as I couldn’t accept that was the answer, what if I had something horrible and they were missing it? My constant googling and paranoia started to take control of my life. Any symptom I felt I would google it. In one afternoon I had googled over 10 different cancers fearful that I might have one of them. My breaking point was when I was taken to hospital in Australia for abdominal pain and was told I had a cyst on my right ovary. Unfortunately for me, I was first told by a student doctor who had no idea what she was saying, whose uncertainty and elusiveness sent me into a panicked crying fit.

I pleaded with GOD and life to not let this happen, that I had a baby who needed me and that I didn’t want to die! Since the death of my father when I was young I had always wanted a family of my own to fill the void, now I finally had my family, I was finally happy, please do not take this away from me.

So when the senior doctor came in and explained that the cyst was benign and was most likely caused by Endometriosis, he shone a light and made me see that I had a problem. My brief outburst had brought up feelings that I didn’t realise I still had. Made me face the fact that I still had issues concerning my dads passing. My fear of missing out on my sons life is the sadness that he is missing out on mine. His grandchild, being here to walk me down the aisle.

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When I got home I looked up postpartum depression and found Postpartum health anxiety. I was shocked to see that I was not the only one. It is a very common part of postpartum anxiety which is not often talked about. Women all over the world were feeling the exact same way as me, whether they had lost a parent or not, and were in need of help. As I read all the stories of all these different mothers I felt relief and sadness. Relief that I was not the only one and that with help I could address my issues. Sadness at seeing so many others suffer and torment themselves all because there is not enough education on this subject.

There is a stigma regarding postpartum depression and anxiety which needs to be addressed. Women need to know that no matter how strong, independent and good a mum you are, you can also experience a form of postpartum depression and there is nothing wrong with that. I falsely believed that because I was not having difficulty bonding with my baby, or was not sad that I didn’t suffer from PPD. We gave up our bodies, lives and sometimes, our sanity for our babies. It takes time and patience to bounce back.We need to learn to admit that having a baby is hard and DOES take a toll on us without feeling like a failure and that it is ok to ask for help. I am the poster child for not asking for help.

If you are experiencing this, then please speak out and let other women know that they are not alone. This post has been a difficult one for me to write and share with you all but if I can help just one person by writing this and encourage others to tell their story, then it is worth it.

xx

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Oh the joy of traveling with my 8 month old son

So the day that I had been looking forward to and dreading at the same time had finally come. I was heading to Australia for 2 months with my 8 month old son. I had come up with this brilliant plan when I was pregnant and was convinced it was the best plan ever. I would get to bask in the Australian sunshine, while Husband to be was working offshore and would get to hang out with friends and family, and be back home in time for Christmas. How amazing! Right?

But since giving birth I have realized that parenting is not as straight forward as I had originally thought or hoped and the thought of such a long flight alone with my baby was starting to weigh down on me. My son despite his cute chubby face, at times, liked to take on the persona of a demon child from hell and I wasn’t sure how he was going to react on a plane.

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But despite my anxiety I tried to be positive. The flight from Aberdeen to London and Singapore to Perth were both fairly short, I could entertainment him. What I was really nervous about was the 13 and half hour flight to Singapore. How could I keep him still and entertained for 13 hours when even at home with all the toys and rooms to play in he got bored and frustrated very easily. My hope was that he would sleep. It was a night flight after all, so it would be like night time at home right?
We board the flight to Singapore and to my surprise my son was in the best mood. The two seats next to us where currently empty and he was happy sitting and smiling at everyone while I packed our things away and prepared our seat for the long journey. I was briefly overcome with pride as he charmed all of the flight attendants including the middle aged man sitting nearby.

But my positive mood slowly started to fade when two young women plonked themselves on either side of us with ” oh no, not a baby” expressions on their faces. Have the seats shrunk? I honestly do not remember seats being THAT small. We were literally touching shoulders and at one point I was thigh to thigh with one of them. Cringe! It would have been awkward in a normal situation but as the girls get settled I see the expression on my sons face as he realizes there are two people with long hair and smartphones just a tiny arms length away. And so the struggle begins.

After what seeemed like an eternity wrestling with my 8 month old in the worlds tiniest space so that he would not grab hold of or jump on one of the two girls next to me, bassinet was finally up and I could finally eat my dinner and try and get some shut eye myself. When he went to sleep in the bassinet almost instantly. I felt triumphant! This was going to be easy!!!! …..I spoke too soon.
Just as all the other passengers were snuggling up to go to sleep, little one suddenly found his voice and decided that he wanted to squeal and scream in the highest pitch he could make for as long as he could. Nothing I did stopped him. Shoved a bottle in his mouth, nope! Dummy? Nope. Handing him his new toys especially bought for the plane ride…hell no! All I could do was try to quiet him while I wished I could crawl into a cave and hide.

It was strange, was this some super plane? Because as soon as we boarded the plane it seemed as if my son had suddenly acquired all these new skills. If it wasn’t the sudden high pitched squealing, it was the sudden ability to climb up on to anything and everything. Or his new found super hearing, where he could hear a food packet open from across the plane. I pitied the passengers who dared eat within sight of my little one, as they were instantly greeted with loud grunting and a death stare until he was able to get hold of whatever they were eating. Luckily I was prepared and could distract him with his own snacks.

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After what seemed like eternity he finally quieted down and started to fall asleep. Only downside was that he only wanted to sleep on me. The bassinet was useless and it was going to be a very long and tiring journey for Mummy, but we made it and I didn’t even need a to supply goodie bags to my fellow passengers. Now every time I see parents boarding flights with their children, I have an immediate respect and understanding for them. It is not easy, and the fear of other passengers reactions can be overwhelming, but take it in your stride. You and your child have every right to be on a plane as they do and the journey will not last forever.

I had survived a 30 hour journey from Scotland to Australia  alone with my 8 month old and if I can do it, any body can. Now I feel I can conquer anything. Bring on the sunshine! 

xxx

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5 tips for new mums in those first few months of motherhood.

The day I had been waiting for (and dreading) had finally come. One week before my due date, I gave birth to my precious baby boy Gabriel Michael Moles on 16th February 2016 at 3:52am after a long 27 hours of labour! I have now officially been a mother for 2 months and boy have our lives changed

You get an inkling from other parents before you have a child of how your life will change, you always gets comments such as ‘Take advantage of the free time you have now’, or the all famous ‘ Sleep while you can’, but you don’t actually realise how serious those parents are with those comments until you have a newborn to look after so here are 5 lessons I have learnt during my 2 months of motherhood.

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I have always been one of those people who likes to be as natural as possible. I avoid taking medication unless I really need it, try to eat clean, organic and fresh and use organic beauty products as much as possible as to avoid any chemical nasties. So when it came to child birth I wanted to follow this same path. Reading up on the possible side effects of an epidural on me and my baby I had decided against it pretty early on in pregnancy. I wanted to have a natural birth and minimise any possible interference that could negatively impact my baby and our ability to bond effectively after birth. So I propped myself up on my high horse and decided to have a water birth with no drugs. It will be painful but I could handle it, right?? Pffftttttt

LESSON ONE: I am  freaking stupid! Why didn’t I take the damn drugs! If over 90% of women end up using an epidural during labour than there is definitely a reason for that. I have always thought that I had a good pain tolerance after surviving the pain of endometriosis since I was a teenager, and maybe I do but labour freaking hurts! Nothing can describe it. No it is not like period pains and no it is nothing like gas pains, it is a pain unlike all others. Don’t be fooled like I was. I thought ‘Oh it is like period pains, I have really bad period pains so I am sure I can handle it’. What a load of Sh**.  Don’t listen to anyone who says it is easy and can even be orgasmic. Unless you are a sadomachosist, I don’t think anyone could really find childbirth ‘ Orgasmic’! After 26 hours of drug free labour I finally gave in at the last hour and got a shot of morphine. I should have given in earlier as straight after I received the injection my son was on his way out!

My advice: Have an open mind. Even though I may have gone down another route if I had known how long and painful it was going to be, I cannot help but feel a tiny bit proud that I managed to hold on for 26 hours. See how it goes but tell your midwife that you are open to everything. Depending on how long your labour is you may be able to handle a natural birth but for me after 27 hours I was too tired to be able to handle it as well as I might have. Take it as it comes but let the midwife know as soon as it gets too painful. I was too stubborn and really wanted to hold on and by the time my contractions were at their peak it was too late for an epidural.

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Two weeks before my due date, I had packed my hospital bag in preparation for the big day. I had gone shopping and made sure I had comfortable yet stylish loungewear and agoing home outfit, had packed my make up and hair straightener and was feeling optimistic about starting my new life as a new mummy fresh.  HA! That was a waste of time, not only did I not wear my ‘Stylish’ going home outfit, my stylish loungewear made me look like a puffed up marshmallow!

LESSON TWO: You will not look as great as you think you will. I had read numerous articles and knew not to expect to look like a supermodel and that I would still have a bit of a belly pooch but I did not expect to hate my body as much as I did. Having a big firm pregnancy belly seemed to have hidden all the extra body fat I actually had. While I had thought I looked pretty slim despite my massive bump, I had the shock of my life after I gave birth to find a had bumps in other places. Seriously I had more rolls than a freaking bakery ! Great! not only was I recovering physically and mentally from the labour I now resembled a beanbag!.

MY TOP TIP –  Pack baggy tops such as a large sweatshirt and leggings to go home in, also take hair elastics for an easy ponytail and reassure yourself that a lot of the weight is water retention that will eventually go away.

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The first night I spent with my son was exhausting. Not only was I recovering from the physical strain of giving birth, but I had already been awake for almost 48 hours straight. When my husband to be left the hospital for the night I thought ‘ YES, I can sleep’. My baby was a newborn and all newborns do is eat and sleep right? Hmmmmmmmm. After feeding my baby and putting him back in his crib to sleep, he responded by crying loudly. I didn’t understand, he was clean, has been fed and was fast asleep just a minute ago. After frantically trying to calm him after an hour I realized what he really wanted.

LESSON THREE: Though I was prepared to be woken up every 2-3 hours to feed my son during the night, I had believed I would be able to get at least some sleep in between feeds however I was wrong. One thing I was not prepared for was not being able to put my baby down once he fell asleep. Nope, he would not sleep anywhere else but on me, no matter how deep in sleep he was, he would scream the moment I would try and put him in his crib. Goodbye my hope of having a good nights sleep. Try sleeping while in a small hospital bed with your newborn balanced on your chest. The sheer terror that he might fall off is enough to keep you awake all night! Twos month on and he still loves to sleep on either me or my partner though with a few tricks we have taught him to sleep mostly in his crib. The reason behind it is that they are so used to being with you 24/7 all snug and warm while they were in the womb, and now being out in the big wide world, all the sensations and open space is overwhelming for them and being close to you comforts them.

TIP: Swaddling! I would swaddle him before feeding him so that my warmth and smell would be on his blankets and once he fell asleep I would put him in his crib, works like a charm. if you are like me and not very gifted in the art of swaddle buy a swaddle pod, now as soon as we put it on him he knows it is time to sleep.
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Becoming a parent for the first time can be very daunting. I remember coming home from the hospital and thinking, what do we do now? It is scary to think that this little person is entirely your responsibility. You and your partner are responsible for how they are going to turn out as adults. Every time you see an annoying child, people blame the parents for not raising them right, so how do I make sure I raise a decent human being and not an twat? The thought is scary. There are a number of books and blogs on parenting, telling you what you should and should not do while caring for your child and to be honest, there are so many conflicting arguments that you could read everyone of those books and still not know what to do. For a lot of our friends and family who have small children, the cry it out method seemed to have worked wonders and seems to be the go to method when you want your child to sleep. ( For those you do not know, the cry it out method is when you let your child cry until they learn to self settle and fall asleep on their own with no fuss).  From day 1, I was told by family, friends even the midwife to let him cry and that if i didn’t I was making a rod for my own back. So after an exhausting first night with him on my chest my partner took over and decided to try this method. As we tried to get him to settle my instincts told me that this was not right despite what everyone had been advising me. I cried as I watched my 3 day old baby cry because he desperately wanted to be close to me. I couldn’t do it, he was too young and didn’t understand what was happening. He needed to be nurtured as being in this world was so new and scary for him. I vowed at that moment to do what I felt was right for me and not what everyone told me to do.

LESSON FOUR: Trust your instincts. You will be inundated with advice from others wanted or not and as daunting as being a new parent is, do what feels right for you. I found that the days I was able to respond quickly to his needs were the days he tended to be more settled and happy to sit by himself for a while, whereas the days I would be a bit busy and didn’t take time with him were the days he became more fussy and clingy. Now that he is older I am more comfortable to let him cry a little bit especially since I can now differenciate between his serious cry and his ‘fake’ cry, but I only do it know because I feel it is now ok to do it even then I only let him cry for a minute or two.

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After 2 months of tending to my baby 24 hours a day there is one thing that I still need to work on and that is to take time for myself.

LESSON FIVE: Look after yourself! The days go by so quickly and before you know it you realise you have not seen your girlfriends for over a month or that you and your partner have not had any alone time since becoming a family. You are wearing clothes that no longer fit you and you have not had your eyebrows waxed for months and they are starting to resemble caterpillars! Its true that newborns will take up most of your time and that your priorities in life change once you have a child but it is important to nurture yourself and the other parts of your life, if not to maintain your relationships but also for your sanity. As I am exclusively breastfeeding it has been difficult for me to leave my baby in fear that he would go hungry, but there have been times where as much as I love him, I have needed to get away! I don’t want to wake up one day and realise my friends have moved on and the only thing I am capable of talking about is my baby and day time TV!

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Advice to myself: Go and get those freaking eyebrows waxed!

What other tips would you give to new parents?

xxx

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Why you need to have a Baby Shower!

 

Baby showers. This new social event that seems to have made its way to the UK, is increasingly popular amongst new mums to be. The first time I had ever heard of one was when I was watching some american movie. There was a beach ball sized, radiant pregnant woman bouncing around with excitement. Must be an american thing, I thought while changing the channel.

However as I have approached the baby making stage in life. I have seen more and more friends and family adopt this concept. I always looked at it as a good excuse to get presents and have a girly afternoon together. However it wasn’t until I experienced my own surprise baby shower last week that I realised it is so much more.

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As a new mum to be, it is easy to get caught up in your own thoughts and fears about this new stage of life. You can easily feel overwhelmed and isolate yourself. Especially someone like me. Being independent is generally a good thing but there are times when this characteristic tends to take over me, and reaching out to others for advice is somewhat alien.

We are programmed to think that motherhood is instinctual and that we should just know what we are doing. As they say, millions of women are doing this everyday right? But do we really know what we are doing?

As the concept is still quite new in Europe, I know a lot of people who still do not understand  the meaning behind it. They see it as an american excuse to have a party and receive presents. It may be for some, but for me it was deeper than that.  It is the concept of having women from both sides of the family, different generations, sisters and sister in laws. Friends who are already mothers and friends who have yet to experience it come together to support you during this life changing moment. To share their experiences and advice, and to remind you that you are not alone.

Why you need to have a Baby Shower

You may have the most supportive husband in the world, but sadly in the end no man can ever understand or appreciate completely the changes your body and emotions go through like another women can. It is natures way of connecting us and bringing us all together, so if you have a wife, friend, sister, cousin or anyone who is expecting. Please know that no matter how strong and independent they may be, whether it is their first, second or third child. We all need that support from our fellow sisters, and a baby shower is a fantastic way to make the expecting mum feel supported.

xxx

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Preparing For Parenthood : The Fear of The First Time Mum

As my due date approaches, it has suddenly dawned on me that I am completely unprepared for the drastic turn my life is about to take. Not only have I not packed my hospital bag, I have not bought any baby clothes, nursing bras or any other baby / mum to be essentials that I will desperately need in the coming future and the nursery is far from ready.

In an attempt to get organised, I set out to buy all these ‘essentials’ and ended up scaring my self more than anything. Buying little boots, hats and rattles was somewhat weird and fun at the same time, but stepping into boots to see the array of mum to be hospital toiletries made my blood curdle. Seeing a vast selection of vaginal massage oils for rips and tears is enough to make anyone run screaming, which was exactly what I did. Knowing I will eventually have to buy all of these things, I sit here and realise that even though I am fully aware that I am pregnant, that my belly has become a huge beach ball which feels like it is going to explode at any moment; it has not completely sunk in that in 5 weeks I will have a baby.

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I am 29 years old but feel exactly the same as I did when I was 16. I still laugh at fart jokes for goodness sake! As a kid I believed that once you became an adult it was this major shift in perspective and outlook; that you just miraculously grew up and understood everything. Little did I know is that you are exactly the same, may have experienced more things and become a bit more mature but you are the same nonetheless, just in a body that is older, doing things that adults do.

Bringing someone else into this world is exciting and scary at the same time. To know that you are making a mini you with the person you love is extraordinary, but knowing that you need to bring the person up to be a good, respectful human being without actually knowing what you are doing is terrifying. All I can hope it is that I will grow and learn along the way and to be the best mum and wife I can be, to take my life experiences and teachings from my past and peers and continue to be the type of person I want to be….a confident mum.

xxx

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