Share a significant moment in your life as a mum - a moment of pride? Of awe? Of sadness?
Perhaps a great challenge that you faced, or simply an unforgettable moment that makes you laugh whenever you think of it. How did being a mum affect you at that time?
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Even if you’re a career woman, one of the hardest things that you’ll have to face is leaving your kids to start working again. At least that’s what the people around me were saying. I must say that I didn’t really believe them – not until I was in the same situation. In moments like these, family support, their love and kindness meant the world to me. This is why I want to share my experience and tips with all of you who may be struggling with the important decisions you have to make.
It really isn’t the end of the world
It may seem like your heart is going to break but if you let your loving family help you, things are definitely going to get easier. Trust me on this – they too know how to take care of your kids and love them with their whole heart. They know their habits, likes and dislikes. And they know you. Accept the help when it’s getting offered because this will only strengthen your family bonds and make you closer to each other than ever before. Moreover, you’ll be sure that your kids have someone caring to look up to while you’re at work.
You shouldn’t feel guilty
When the time to get back to work came, the guilt was consuming me. However, this feeling is not something to fight. Accept it, analyze it and bid farewell to it. I’m convinced that I would have had a hard time dealing with guilt if it weren’t for my loved ones. You know, when they rationally present the importance of your job for the whole family to you, it becomes clear that there’s no reason to feel guilty. After all, you’re providing for your kids and this job will help you take care of them properly, buy them toys and essentials, go on family trips and make plenty of unforgettable memories in the future. Your kids need security and you can make them feel secure in more ways than just being with them 24/7.
Find an adequate childcare
One of the main reasons why I wanted to share my experience with you is for my discovery of childcare centers for youngsters. When we looked into www.youngacademics.com.au and the programs they have, we knew that this is the right choice for us as well. Of course, talk to the teachers, ask questions and share your concerns with them. Their professionalism and love for what they do are bound to relax you and blow away any concerns that you may have. In the end, I’m thrilled to see how happy and energetic my kids are, especially since we get to have time for cuddles and play after a busy day.
Activity against stress
I knew that I had to get more physical activity in order to get more energy, better sleep as well as feel happier and less stressed in general. My looks were the least of my concerns but I wanted to be lively enough to spend time with my whole family without feeling moody or tired. The problem was that I didn’t know how to find the time for a gym or fitness class. This is when my amazing 10-minute morning workout began. I found it at www.parenting.com/gallery/10-minute-workout-routine and it works like a charm. Our mornings became really fun since we all get together and do a set of workouts to start our day, as my kids happily cheer.
Remember, it’s perfectly fine to ask for help, especially from your family. They’re there for you and there’s no reason to feel reluctant. Together with some weekly planning and organization as well as expert childcare centers, you can lead a fulfilled life, give your best at your job and for your family, and enjoy every moment of it!
“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did – that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that – a parent's heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.”
― Debra Ginsberg
I’ll tell you what I know, and I suspect you already know it all yourself, no one is ever quite ready to be a parent; we think we are, and we have a feeling we’ll have it all figured out but, truth is, everyone is always caught off guard.
From the moment your baby breathes life in your womb to when we send them off to school, soccer practice or college, or when we’re waiting them to come home from their first date or say the “I do” to the one they choose – parenthood chooses you. It's not a question of choice but a matter of luck – you are blessed, and it’s up to you to juggle all the balls that are up in the air.
I am the mother of three gorgeous children; never in life have I thought I’d have three pieces of priceless jewels like they are, nor did I ever imagine I’ll know how to handle it all. They say I am an amazing mum but I still have my doubts (somehow, it always feels like it’s not good enough, right?).
All three of my kids are lessons in disguise and I would never trade this glorious experience for anything in this world!
Here, a quick sum up of things parenthood has taught me:
Patience, patience, patience
You know all those times you were dieting when you were young and someone tells you “just be patient, the results are going to show soon” but you still go crazy and quit or cheat with a slice of cake, anyways? Well, in parenthood – it’s all about limitless patience with no cheat day! Every single day is a new test on the battlefield and you need all the composure in this world to make it through.
After reading a few articles on www.amotherfarfromhome.com and based on my personal experience I've learned to wait for the right moment, use the right tactics, figure out when to strike to bend them to my will, how long to wait before I talk to them when they are mad, how well to postpone the anger (oh, yes, there’s plenty of anger in parenthood), ways to teach and educate them on life and have them listen, without having a door slammed to my face, etc. Patience!
Giving, in every sense of that word
Limitless giving, the type I never knew I was capable of; emotional, mental, financial, you name it. Once your child is born, everything else becomes second place, no matter how important it was up until then. You adjust yourself to their needs and find ways for their desires to happen. From always showing them how loved, worthy, appreciated and special they are to letting them indulge in their favorite clothing on a website like this one www.swap.com/shop/baby-apparel/ or their latest Frozen toys (and whatnot) – it’s all about selfless, endless giving. And then – once you do, figuring out ways not to spoil them. Ah… so much planning and strategies, it’s like running a country, really!
Playing hard to get
No, no… none of the games we used to play with our now-husbands even compare in wisdom and cleverness to the hard to get we play with the kids every day! It’s all about careful conditioning – do this and you’ll be rewarded that; if you’re a good girl, we’ll buy you that; you can’t have a sleepover unless you clean your room seven days a week straight, etc. It takes strength but they’re taught lessons that way. Strategies are everything! Believe it or not, but all the strategies I’ve used on my kids I’ve later implemented on my work when I returned to the office. Guess what? I’ve been nailing it since!
Parenthood is hard, demanding and glorious – all at the same time; if I had to do it all again, I would still want my same three amazing daughters - through laughter, prayers, tears, and blessings… and everything that is yet to come.
When I was younger, staying fit and having a great body were my top priorities. However, once I became a mother, my priorities reshuffled. After giving birth to three beautiful girls, it was safe to say that my old looks have gone down the drain for good. So I had two options – I could either become a grumpy mom who longs for her pre-baby looks and wallows in self-pity, or I could accept the present state of things and make the most of it. I chose the second option and set out on a journey of self-discovery that made me realize some important things about myself. Here’s what I’ve learned.
I’ve made my peace with stretch marks
Dealing with stretch marks was the biggest challenge for me. I’ve tried using all sorts of products, but with no satisfying results. Finally, I’ve decided to accept my body the way it was. Some pregnancy changes are simply irreversible and once I came to terms with it, I felt relieved. I stopped wasting my energy and time on things that can’t be changed and accepted my body.
Bye, bye extra pounds
Every new mom gains a few extra pounds during pregnancy, but in my case “a few” would be an inaccurate description. Not only did I put on weight during pregnancy, but I also continued to gain extra pounds after giving birth. This was pretty unsettling, so I’ve decided to take some action and consult an expert. I found out that stress, lack of sleep, and of course, unhealthy eating are major causes of this problem. So, I’ve decided to change my lifestyle. I divided my daily menu into several smaller portions and introduced plenty of fruit, vegetables, and oatmeal to my diet. I also refrained from sweets and replaced them with nuts and dried fruit. I couldn’t find the time for a proper fitness program, so I followed this advice www.momforum.com/showthread.php/16268-exercise-tips from a personal trainer, who suggested yoga that can be done at home. I also agreed with my husband that each of us will sleep for at least 7 hours per night. These changes required some effort, but the results were astonishing.
No more weak hair
Before and during pregnancy I had long, healthy hair. However, about two months after giving birth, my hair became drastically weaker and thinner and it started to fall out. I was reluctant to cut it as I’ve always loved my long hair and I simply couldn’t imagine myself with a short haircut. It seemed like there was no other way out, but I didn’t want to give up. Instead, I’ve searched the Internet for some helpful tips and I found a wide selection of repairing products as well as hair vitamins www.hairfinity.com/us/en/shop/hair-vitamins that prompt hair growth and make it thick and shiny again. In just a few months I was able to see the results and soon enough I regained my hair’s former glow.
The right clothes and makeup
Pregnancy clothes became a habit, which I was eager to get rid of. I bought new clothes; not expensive items, but cute and stylish second-hand clothes, as well as some vintage pieces. I also made some changes in my makeup routine. I stopped using the “I-don’t-have-the-time” excuse and simplified my makeup process. I decided to emphasize my strongest point – my eyes – with eyeliner and mascara and simply complete the look with a lip-gloss. I was once again satisfied with the way I look, without spending too much time or money.
I was aware that pregnancy will change my body, and even though some changes are here to stay, I’ve accepted them as a part of me. I may have lost my former looks but I got so much more in return – the gift of being a mother.
So my fionce (Cliff) and I (Alice) have been engaged for 9 months and are rather impatiently awaiting the big day in 2 months time!!! As you will get to know Cliff and I, you will begin to realise impulsive and impatient would be better suited names for us both. I have planned the wedding to absolute perfection and have every single detail fully under control, Cliff not so much, he goes to work brings home the bacon and listens to me waffle on for hours about colour schemes and flowers and desperately tries to remember what I'm saying as he know he will be pop quizzed on this in the morning. The stage we at now is the worst part...the waiting game!!! We are desperate to get married and start living in marital bliss (snorts when she laughs), but what it is we are reeeeeaaallly waiting for is to start a little family. We are trying to be somewhat traditional and have the idea that it's best we wait until we are married until we fall pregnant, but both don't really care nor want to wait. We constantly talk about when we will start trying, will it be honeymoon, or could we perhaps try before and then find out on honeymoon? Decisions, decisions... We weigh up the pro's and cons and change our minds daily. What we inevitably both know is that Miss Impatient and Mr Impulsive will spend days talking about this incessantly decide that we should wait until the honeymoon, and then go and do the complete opposite. Which is exactly what we did. March the 8th 2012, with only 2 months to wait until our wedding day we break all the rules and in a night of intoxicated passion we do the naughty for the very first time without any protection what so ever!!! We took the plunge...it all felt very exciting for a few days, but neither of us really believed that one naughty mistake would change our lives forever, and so both swore to stop being so darn impatient from that day forth and just blooming wait until we were married. It's only 2months for god's sake!!!
But from that very day a little seed had planted in more ways than one. I just felt different, I know I know it's all very cliche, but I just did - ok?! I tested my impatiantness to the very max and kept quiet for a few days, knowing I was due on my period on the 16th, I didn't have very long at all to wait to find out. But my god did those 8 days test me. Who am I kidding, I didn't just sit around not knowing for 8 days...day 4 I bought myself a pregnancy test, one of those super duper electronic badboys and had my little wee and waited the excruciating 3 minutes until it flashed up .... NEGATIVE. Of course it was negative, what was I thinking. Out I went to Cliff told him what I had been up to and he held me and comforted me and we laughed about how impatient I am and how we just won't be pregnant, it's just not possible. I went to bed that night a little disappointed, but not entirely... there was still a little part of my brain that said somethings different. So day 5 I'm up at the crack of dawn desperate for a wee, but this time I wanted the first wee of the day for that little stick...it must have been negative because my wee was weak. So tests bought, one boots own, one first response (for early results before a missed period), I burst through the door and can hardly undo the packets before I wee everywhere and I wait... NEGATIVE, NEGATIVE. Ok so now I feel really silly, I'm such a loser, I have sex once and I'm becoming a deluded desperate woman. Thats it... no more, I will await the arrival of my period and put all this to bed.
March 16th... I'm checking my knickers like a woman possessed.
March 17th still nothing, clean panties, not period pain in sight...things are looking up!
March 18th...Dinner with my girls, that night I had been bursting to see my two bestie's Sammie and Clare. We had arranged a dinner at good old Pizza Express and I was literally bursting to talk pregnancy with them. Neither of them knew we were even thinking of trying for a baby, so I didn't quite let them know how crazy I had been over the last few days but they soon realised that I was very seriously in need of some female support and advice. Clare said instantly - your pregnant, I just know it. Sammie said, ok lets be calm...no more crazed test buying and gave me a target to wait 3 more days before testing, and I was to call them both as soon as I knew either way. Ok so I had a goal now, 3 more days to wait, but surely at the end of those days we will have an answer.
March 22nd... I had my tests at the ready, Cliff was home this time and was telling me not to be disappointed we can keep trying and it would be very very very unlikely to be positive after 3 negatives and on our first try, ClearBlue my chosen brand, into the loo I went. I've given in to waiting sensibly for the entire 3 minutes by this point and I watch it like a hawk as the pee seeps up the stick soaking the little blue line, the negative begins to form as always, and my heart sinks a little, but then...oh wait, is that other line starting to emerge...is that the beginnings of a cross...noooo, is it? Surely not, but well... maybe? Ok now I'm passing, Cliff hears the toilet flush, ''Babe?'' I hear him say, out I walk slowly, stick in had and say ''Well its not a negative nor a positive''. At this point we are all a fluster, we don't know whether to be happy or sad or laugh or cry, we have a little cuddle and both stare longingly at the little faint cross thats sort of appeared. 2 minutes later we are up searching for the packet and the instructions reading desperately about false positives and what the test should look like. It very much looks like a weak positive, but an even weaker than weak one if you know what I mean. Then the texts come flooding in from the girls... Sammie: BABE...U OK, U TAKEN THE TEST? CLARE: YAY OR NAY??? TELL ME AS SOON AS YOU KNOW!
What do I do now? So we decide after hours of googling false positives and unclear results we decide that once again the ONLY bloody thing to do is WAIT.... my favourite word!!!
March 23rd, Cliff goes to work, I go and pee, first morning pee, now 9 days late for my period, the desperate feeling that I am pregnant I must be, something feels different, but only these silly negative and unclear tests to tell me the answer I take what I've decided is my final test. The emotional roller coaster has been excruciating and I can't even begin to imagine what couples go through when they have been trying for months and months...I truly couldn't handle this every month. And so I wee and watch and wait... this time I see it, you may have to squint a little but I'm sorry that is definitely a faint cross, it looks much more like the weak positive from the instructions booklet and is definitely not a negative.
My heart is thumping, I immediately snap a picture on my phone and email it to Cliffy, it's positive enough for me I write and I book into the doctors immediately. I confirm the results with the doctor, although she doesn't take a blood test she says thats positive enough and gives me an early pregnancy pack and off I walk into the sunshine with the most overwhelming happiness I have ever experienced. A mothers intuition they say is something quite magical and it was, through all the doubt and negativity, I always knew. A little seed had planted in me and from that day onward it was just a matter of proving myself and my new little creation to the world. Cliff calls me in hysterics, the first time he has fully let himself believe he is going to be a daddy and he is so overwhelmed and happy and races home to be with me as we embark on the journey of parenthood together.
Looking down at my son at my breast, his big eyes staring up at me, one hand in my hair, the other resting softly on my chest. And knowing that this would be our last ever feed, I felt a deep sense of loss. No more quiet moments in the night - just me and him and my husband’s snores. I would never get to breastfeed my baby again.
Yet this ending was also an amazing beginning. Somehow, as I reclaimed my breasts, I rediscovered part of my non-mum identity. Waking the next day, my mind raced as it hadn’t in the last 18 months. I had plans, projects, energy. I had my brain back.
It’s amazing how quickly you forget the pain of labour. The body doesn’t allow you to remember – or you’d never do it again. Just hours after I first held my son in my arms, I could barely remember how a contraction felt. When my son finally arrived, the immediate sensation was relief – relief that the wait, the 28 hour labour, the focus, the pushing, the pain, was over. And my new life could now begin. Of course the pain was only over for a few moments – then it was out with the placenta and in with the stitches, followed by weeks of painful recovery.
After that initial relief came amazement. And confusion. On the journey home from the hospital, a strange sensation. As I looked into a huge car seat dwarfing the tiny creature next to me, I wondered ‘whose baby is that?’ Logically, I knew he was mine of course. But somehow it was too huge a concept to grasp.
The next few months were a challenging time of transition. The lingering pain replaced the intensity of labour and I struggled to absorb my new identity as a mum. I kept thinking back to problems during the birth, I couldn’t sleep – my mum looked after my son for two hours while I wrote every moment of my labour down so I could stop reliving it. It was as if my mind was trying to grasp what had happened, to make sense of this huge change in my life. Having been so defined by my career, I no longer had that role. Instead, I had feeding problems, responsibility for a tiny creature, and no idea whatsoever who I was. I was exhausted. I was lost. I didn’t want to leave the house. I didn’t want visitors.
As my wounds healed, I regained energy. I came to connect with my son and with my new identity. Only now I swung too far in the opposite direction. I aspired to be the perfect mum, setting myself the same level of unachievable standards I’d always set myself at work. I embraced the role of mum so wholeheartedly that I lost all sense of who I was before.
While it was a gradual rites of passage, I remember that moment I stopped breastfeeding as the moment I found balance again. My brain literally woke up. I realised that while being a mum was transformational, I didn’t have to change beyond all recognition. I could be a mum, and still be myself. I could care for my child and still enjoy personal challenges and work. The thrill of creating a new project is not so very different to the thrill of creating a new person after all. I now have a four week old daughter and although breastfeeding has already been fraught with difficulties, I’m loving having that connection again. Only this time round, I’m a little closer to finding that elusive balance.
Nothing’s getting done round here,
The kitchen’s in a mess.
No vacuuming the bedroom round,
The missing car keys won’t get found,
And ironing flows off every chair.
Strangers may sigh and roll their eyes,
I don’t care if they do!
I’m wearing jumpers outside in,
And standing about with a stupid grin,
With photos propped up everywhere.
No enchantment, or a magic spell,
Would make me feel like this.
I know its Nature and She would say
‘There’s babies born on every day!’
But I will tell her ‘Just stop right there!’
You see I know, am very sure
NO-ONE’s ever felt just as I do.
The glorious miracle, the magic now,
The why, the where, the who, the how…
Is you! Is you! Is you! Is You! Is you!
When you have children you realize how fast time flies. In the blink of an eye, your little baby is 9 years old and having long discussions/arguments about her rights!! Little Nugget is 9 and a half and loves to debate her rights with me. She doesn’t understand why she does not have any authority over her father and me. She also wants a say in everything. I don’t get it; just yesterday I was changing her diapers and figuring out how to start her off on solids!
It all feels like a blur sometimes and I worry about forgetting all the special moments. I realized though that etched in my heart is her little face peeking over the bumper pad in her crib. She was almost 9 months old and would wake up and make noise for me to come and get her. Every time I walked in the room, her smiling, dancing, sparkling eyes peeking over waiting for me to pick her up. I remember it vividly.
Mini Nugget is now 1 and a half and is a tiny tornado running around the house. She has quite the character and the brightest smile. It feels like I went into labor just the other day and now she is walking and talking and also expressing her opinions. In her own way she too is questioning our authority and thinking she can dupe us into giving her what she wants! Always etched in my heart will be her image walking into the house one day (after an outing with Daddy) holding out a big bouquet of flowers (bigger than she is) and stumbling her way over to me while calling out Mamma! She gave me the flowers and said Thank you (Tantoo).
I don’t want time to fly by and I don’t want to forget. Filming them doesn’t feel enough. I want to hold on to their little bodies snuggled into me, the sound of their baby talk, the soft baby smell…. you understand what I mean.
I find that having these specific memories etched in my heart will let me hold on to a piece of their childhood and when I think of those images, thankfully, they seem to bring on more memories.
I breathe a sigh of relief, at least I won’t forget....
I was coming up to my 32nd birthday and excited to be having a baby. My GP, who knew I had worked in Africa, suggested that I should have an HIV test along with the regular tests in pregnancy. I felt completely fit and well. The other results were fine, but not the test for HIV.
Nowadays, over 99% of children are born HIV-free if their mother is on medication. But in 1992, if I went ahead with the pregnancy it was feared it would affect the baby’s health, or my health, leaving my older children motherless. Having an abortion because of a life-threatening illness is horrible. Testing positive for HIV in 1992 was a death sentence; along with the grief of losing the baby, I thought I was going to die.
Even with the fantastic support of my husband, who remains HIV negative, I was completely devastated. I remember walking down Regent Street thinking the best thing I could do was to just throw myself under the next bus.
However, that evening I went to meet a group of other women with HIV. The woman who was leading the group said that she’d been diagnosed in prison. The warden came and opened the hatch in her door, said, “oh by the way you’re HIV positive”, then just slammed the hatch shut. She decided to get out of prison, get off drugs, and make sure that no other woman would have to go through that experience. If she turned her life around, how dare I take the easy route out to go and think about suicide? I, too, had to sort myself out and go and do something for other women. I’ve now started the Salamander Trust, which works on HIV and women’s rights.
A third of people with HIV in the UK are women, and hardly any of us are open about our status, because of the horrifying stigma. When my two children were at school, if ever the word HIV would come up, other kids would say “GAYS! AFRICANS! JUNKIES!”… there was such racism and homophobia, criticising anyone of a different lifestyle without any sense of solidarity.
The stigma is there in religious communities too. From some, I’ve had fabulous support. Sadly, from others, there has been very little understanding. There’s a great Ugandan priest with HIV who says: “religion brings out the best and worst in us”. I’ve felt drawn to Buddhism over the last few years, but in my experience, most people who don’t have a faith still have an extremely firm set of ethical principles.
Alice's story is featured at London's Museum of Motherhood, due to launch at the V & A Museum of Childhood on Thursday 21st June, along with a book. All revenue from ticket and book sales will go to fund Proshanti, a charity supporting maternal healthcare work in Bangladesh. You can buy tickets here for the launch and follow them on facebook and twitter.
You can also win a pair of tickets to the launch by joining our next mums' Make Date. Join us on twitter on 20 June 8.30pm – 9.30pm BST (other timezones here) using the hashtag #somum for a chat and a doodle: Museum of Mum. To see what a Twidoodle's all about, check out our first ever attempt last month... Hope to see you there!
My daughter Tamsin was born on the 26th of August 2010 at 8:20 a.m after about two days of labour.
One of the mothers from a baby group I attended said to me “When you give birth, you leave your dignity at home”. She was right. Legs apart, I felt like an object being prodded and inspected by just about anyone. I can’t describe the pain, except that it was excruciating. For me, it was like plummeting into a deep, deep tunnel with no bottom and being hauled back up again, only to experience the same pain again and again.
I have a very low threshold of pain, so I told the midwives to give me all the available drugs in the world. So I had gas and air and when I was dilated enough they finally gave me the epidural.
Once the drug had taken effect, I felt like a person again and not a rag doll tossed and about in a sea of endless pain. I could actually breath easy.
Pam, the young and really pretty midwife said to me, “It might take a bit longer than you expected. Do sleep, you’ll need your energy later”. This was early morning, after being in labour for two days with no sleep you have no idea what those words meant to me, I could almost weep. I sent my poor husband who also lacked sleep and food, down for some breakfast.
Then fell asleep.
The kind of sleep that is so sweet and delicious you could actually taste it. Then I heard something. At first I thought I was dreaming and imagining it. With my eyelids still closed I heard it again, my daughter’s heartbeat was slowing down. The strong heartbeat that serenaded me all through out my labour like the sound of the djembe drum I brought with me back from Ghana – loud and clear was growing really faint.
I sat up and listened, hoping I was just too drugged and hallucinating things. But no, it was for real. I called the midwife. When she came, she checked the machine and asked me to change positions, explaining that my movements could have caused the wires or tubes that connects the machine to my baby loose or something.
But there was no change. Her heartbeat was still slowing down.
“I’ve never done this before”, she said.
Before I could ask what she meant, she stepped on a chair to reach the red emergency button on the wall. Within seconds, it was like a scene straight out of a Grey’s Anatomy episode – doctors and nurses came flooding in. There must have been a dozen of them. Then I was quickly wheeled out of the room, if this were a Greys Anatomy episode, you’d hear up sound music, perhaps it would be Ana Nalick’s song “Breathe” (they seem to love that one) or Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol. I turned to Pam and said, “I’m scared”. She said nothing, but held my hand. Bless her.
The last thing I remember was a pair of really green eyes saying “Breathe into this Mrs. B”.
My husband came back to an empty bed and an empty room with a banana and apple juice in hand. A staff came in and without any explanation said “I’ll call the midwife”. Can you imagine what he must have been thinking when he saw the room empty?
After awhile, a midwife came and explained what happened. My daughter’s umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck, she was slowly being strangled and that’s why they performed an emergency c section right away. A single second delay would have caused life-changing damages. I shudder at the thought.
It took me awhile before I could tell this story without bursting into tears. Chris, my midwife was the loveliest woman. She was like a surrogate mother to me, really helpful and was so patient with answering all my paranoid questions. When I told her about what Pam said (I’ve never done this before), she was really disapproving and said that she shouldn’t have said that.
Talking about it now still rattles me a bit. I still wake up in the middle of the night to check my daughter’s breathing, even though she’s two already turning three. I know it’s normal for mums to do that, but I do it more than once, even when she’s napping during the day.
My proudest moment was when my son went to university, not something I had done. When my sons were little I made up stories and they couldn't let me go until I told another!. Since I've been a mum it has learned me to have patience. Especially love, thought. Love that only come from the heart. A mother's love knows no bounds. I would give my life to save my sons. I have learned to have lots of love; you went without some things for them when they were younger. Now I have a lot of joy, very proud just being a mother, and friend to others as well.
As moms we all feel this way but somehow this week it really sunk in. My girls are miniature pieces of me. For some reason they seem to have morphed into little mini me’s. Not only do I find they look more like me (they always tended to look more like their dad), I see a lot of my characteristics in them. My favorite one, their playfulness. I love to laugh, play and have fun (not always possible as an adult and a mom but I still try!) and have been enjoying doing that with the girls lately.
I watch them walk, talk, play, argue, cry and sleep and I can't get over the fact that these mini people are not only a part of me, they are actual pieces of me running all over the place (and I mean ALL Over the place!!). I have to say, I LOVE it. I was feeling tired and down lately (a phase that is ending, thankfully) and when I am with the girls, I feel happy and at peace.
Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way idealizing the work involved for moms but I am saying it is an indescribable feeling of love, compassion and peace. Every once in a while, it is good to take a step back and revel in the magic that is our kids. It helps us refocus our energy, puts meaning back into our lives and reminds us how much we love them so we can forget all thoughts of tying them to the table so they can sit still and give us a small brake to catch our breath ;)
I have juggled being a single mum for a long time - when my daughter was younger I had a very poorly little girl for around 5 years, and some very tough major life events that happened to me... I stayed alive and kicking by firstly loving motherhood no matter how hard it felt - the joy my child gave me is bigger and better than anything I have ever known - it's amazing seeing her develop, grow and turn out to be a real little piece of 'me' and her own person all rolled into one !
Eventually I found out that my child is a coeliac and through managing her diet and cutting out the things that made her so poorly, she is now very well and participating normally in life like other children!
During the time my child was ill where I lost 2 jobs due to the considerable amount of time I had off with littley in Hospital, I continued to develop my Mosaic art when I had any spare time ! And...now it's all paying off and via facebook I have been chosen, along with 60 International Artists, to participate in my first major Public Art project in Santiago, Chile, by a renown artist called Izidora Paz Lopez. She loves my own work and style and also the art therapy work I do witht vulnerable adults.
I am shocked and excited all rolled into one ! I have just applied for the MK Community Foundation craft bursary to help fund this opportunity, so I hope that in January 2014 I will be working alongside artists like Gary Drostle and Sonia King - leading international public mosaicists, working together to make a difference in Chile.
I will bring back so many skills to my home of Milton Keynes where I want to let everyone experience the joy that is mosaic - giving large grey concrete expanses on walls and flooring a delightful facelift - with stunning mosaic, via large scale community Public Art projects ! Follow me on face book to see my Mosaic and work with vulnerable people ... Melanie Watts Mosaics. Thanks - and keep on keeping on - time heals ! XXX
I still laugh when i remember the day my husband was making a business call to a client, telling them a postcode... Somewhat distracted by our son (a baby at the time, in nappies, sometimes explosive ones), he says the postcode, "P for....,,,,.......er,,,,,..... Poo!?" I cracked up at the time, & still do!
Last Saturday, my youngest child turned 8 years old. One of the most remarkable things about this event each year is that it provides me with a moment of recall and reflection: of a different, tougher time in my life - a time when I barely held on...
... a time when I was in so much pain that taking my life, or leaving my family was the only solution I could see to saving them all.
Each year on my daughter's birthday I am reminded of her first year of life. I had barely finished breast-feeding her older brother before she was showing in my body. There was little time (for me at least) to get a handle on the new world I was living in, the choice I had made and the consequences/results of that choice. There was little time for my relationship to catch up and right itself enough to handle a second child. Little time to re-find Sarah to the extent that I could find her again easily enough after a second child arrived.
Each year I recall the people around me who "saw" me. I remember the ones whe reached out to me in small ways to encourage me to hang in there (what for exactly I had no idea at the time), the people who told me it would get easier.
It was a terrifying place to be. A place of such disconnection from my Self, my partner, my children and my place in the world around me. A lot of it felt familiar: I recognised the signs from feelings I had after the birth of my son.
I stood in my kitchen crying at 3am night after night, imagining my departure from the family and my death, or both. I came up with ways to distance myself further from my children and partner - to ensure that they would not have to put up with me any longer: not suffer my messiness, my anger, my pain, my abhorrence of those parts of my Self I found faulted, lacking, imperfect.
I wanted to run and hide from my incompetence, my inability to feel, my numbness, my psychotic moments. I wanted to save them all from me. I was certain my death would be a better all-round solution. I would do the one thing I could do to help them all - I would take myself out of the equation for good.
I believed it was something that so many Mothers had no experience of ... and now I know that SO MANY do.
I didn't talk to anyone about how I was feeling: that would have been the ultimate failure ... to show the crazy shit that was in my mind? No way!
Then one of those 3am mornings I decided that I had to hang on: that an imperfect mother was better than no mother at all, that my 3am madness was just that ... a sickness, a dis-ease.
I went in and woke up my partner (now husband). I told him the crazy stuff I had been thinking for months. I let it all tumble out into the darkness and cold. I let him see my insides. I risked it: I showed him my dirty, nasty guts, my diseased mind.
(He's a great sleeper and 3am wake-ups are not his forte - so you can imagine what it was like for him!!!)
I talked out all the acid and hate. I shared the black, dark poison inside me. I dumped it all upon him, unable to take responsibility for it all (at that point) or to know what to do with it: I knew I had to get it out into the light if I was going to be able to hang on.
It was the moment I began the journey back. I knew by my actions that I wanted to live and love more than I wanted to die or leave.
I know now that I always wanted that and always will - but that mental illness has a way of making us think things that are not true.
I know the value of having someone to turn to in the wee small hours of terror.
I know the importance of facing the fear, shining a light upon it, baring its core, sifting through the pieces to see what is, and what isn't real.
I know the courage it takes. I understand the risk that it is. I honor and value that journey.
I take it every year ... to remind myself of how far I went and how far I've come.
Where does your journey take you?
I have a small, seemingly insignificant moment etched in my memory, which is the moment I truly realised I was a mother, forever. I do also, of course, remember the moment my babies were placed in my arms, and first words, and steps. But those moments were about them, not me.
The small insignificant moment was when my first son was about 16 months old. We were at a stay and play session, which we had attended for a while. My son was making his first forays into playing with other children, and was contentedly playing alongside them. Another child came up to him. My son smiled. The child shoved him backwards. There was not a lot of malice in it, the other child seemed to be investigating just what would happen if he shoved my son. What happened is he fell backwards, and cried. And my heart broke. I poured emotions into the moment, into my son, that just weren't there. He had attempted to play, he had trusted, he had had his trust stamped on, he had woken up to the big bad world - other people may hurt you, emotionally and physically. I don't think he actually felt any of those things. I think he hurt for a few seconds, realised some children were different to others, and possibly best avoided, and moved on. But I wanted to crawl into his heart, to tell him it was ok, that he was loved, that I was sorry I wasn't hovering around him at that precise second, that I didn't catch him before he fell, that I didn't foresee that the other child would push him and head him off. That just because he was pushed, he was still special, and amazing, and I loved him.
I have, over time, thankfully, become far less emotional about things like this.. My son has been the pushee himself once or twice, though thankfully just that once or twice. It is an inevitable part of childhood. I have taught him, at two and a half, that these things happen, but apologies are important, as are recognising our feelings.
But what I realised, at that moment, was that I was a mother, and all that that entailed. Part of my heart was walking around inside my son, and now my two little boys. I will laugh with them, cry with them, hope with them, cheer with them. I will feel everything they feel, but tenfold, because I will exaggerate it, because it is important to them, and therefore utterly important to me. I will watch them try, and sit on my hands because sometimes they will need to fail to learn. I will watch them manage conflict, but close my eyes to stop myself from rushing in and fixing it for them. I will burst with pride when they are simply happy to have achieved something small. I will worry, endlessly, while they trustingly barrel through their early years. I am on an emotional roller coaster, and am full of awe, admiration, and most of all love. To love our children is to have our inner selves exposed, and to experience all the sadness and overwhelming joy that that brings.
I think the fact that I had my Mummy Epiphany in a draughty school hall drinking weak squash highlights everything about motherhood that I am trying to portray - it is the little things, the small insignificant things that happen every day that make us mothers, that our children remember about their childhood, that make our memories.
I can't wait for tomorrow, to make more.
Isaac had to be born early, I was really ill and he was born by c section on august 10th 2010. He weighed just 1lb 13oz and i saw him for just a few seconds before he was taken to neonatal intensive care.
I couldnt see him for 3 days because he got moved to a different hospital and i wasnt well enough to be moved. The first time i saw him after that is something i will always remember. He was so so small and had so many wires and tubes, but he was beautiful. He was perfect. He had all his fingers and toes and lots of hair, so so much hair. They said he may not have hair or fingernails or eyelashes yet but he did. He was absolutely perfect, just very very tiny.
We spent lots of time with Isaac, he didnt really like to be touched too much and was too ill to hold but we sat and talked to him and told him all about his family who all were longing to meet him.
Isaac couldnt stay with us. He was just too small and when he got ill he couldnt cope so needed the ventilator longer. And he was too small so the ventilator damaged his lungs. It was a vicious circle. 20 days after his birth, Isaac had a cyst on his lung that popped. The doctors tried but Isaac was too tired. He had had 2 operations and countless medical procedures in his little life and he needed to go to sleep.
That day we go to hold him, we had waited what seemed so long to do that. We bathed him and got to dress him for the first time.
All these things i will remember forever. Isaac is imprinted on my heart and will always be his mummy.
Watery eyes, mouth wide open with little teeth showing, face turning purple. Is she choking, what’s wrong with her, she can’t be crying there’s no sound. She’s upset, but still no sound. You’re thinking it’ll go away…. Maybe it’s not that bad. Then all of a sudden it comes, that loud breathless, ear splitting shriek letting you know that it is most definitely NOT over.
The pitch rises and she is now freaking out! You hug, you cuddle and you wait for the storm to pass. This is one of the many tests of a mom. Only a mom can put up with that many decibels and still be able to smile and reassure rather than run out screaming.
Sometimes you know the melt down is coming and sometimes you don’t but one thing is for sure only a mommy knows how to make it all better and kiss it away!
I love the long intimate cuddle that comes when the clouds clear out and the sun shines through. She nestles her little head on my chest, sticks her finger in her mouth and relaxes completely. I don’t like to see her sad but I really cherish those tender moments and try to hold on as long as I can.
I was 31 weeks pregnant with my 2nd child. Chloe, who was 10 months old was asleep upstairs in her cot. It was around 8:30 in the evening and I had a phone call from my sister : “Emma, Peter Kays on tonight on Channel 4 watch it”. Id never seen Peter Kaye before but had heard everyone talk about how funny it was.
From the moment I started watching I was laughing, such a funny and down to earth guy and from my hometown Manchester. The joke about Slimming World and diets got me laughing hysterically, I could totally relate to it, that’s how us ladies do be when on diets. When it came to the joke about being drunk, drinking 20/20 I was in absolute hysterics , just couldn’t stop laughing – because we all relate to it. Basically from the start to the end of the programme I laughed all the way through – hysterically.
When it was over I decided to go upto bed, was really tired having a young baby and being pregnant. Over the next 2 hours I tried to get to sleep, I just couldn’t. I went to the toilet and found myself bleeding. I was having slight pains to. Shouting up my fiancé Joe I was so scared. The pain was getting worse.
Joe phoned the hospital and they told him to bring me in. We woke Chloe up to drop her off at my sisters. The pain was getting worse. I was sat on the back seat of the car in agony, crying telling Joe to drive faster, him being in a total panic about me and having to drive. He sped all the way there (going through red lights as it was late- roads were quite).
We got to the hospital just parking outside the door. Joe buzzed on letting the nurses know we were here as I was still in the car. By this point the contractions were every 2/3 minutes. The midwives were trying to get me out of the car. The pain in my back was so bad I just couldn’t move, they were saying everything as nice as they could to coax me out I just couldn’t move. I told the nurses I needed to push. They were against this saying “Emma breathe ,don’t push yet till we get you upstairs” Upstairs was 3 flights of stairs and the pain was horrendous. I was screaming telling them the baby was there and I needed to push.
I could see the nurses talking at that point they lay me down in the car. Joe was holding my hand, I was screaming and crying. The urge to push came and was pushing with everything I had. Joe is a taxi driver. His darling beloved is in labour in his taxi, his next words enraged me : “Emma don’t get blood all over the taxi, try and keep it clean” Oh my God…I was fuming I was shouting at him crying but he was saying Ive got to work , the customers blah blah blah. Couldn’t believe it .
The urge again came and I pushed the baby out. There was no cry, no noise from the baby. There was suddenly lots of nurses around . I hadn’t seen the baby didn’t know what was happening. I knew the look on Joes face – he was worried and that scared me as hes quite positive. I couldn’t stop crying, then had to deliver the placenta in which was harder than the baby.
I was taken to the labour ward. I felt so ill and overwhelmed. Nurses were trying to reassure me but weren’t telling me about my baby, I just wanted to see her. Around 3 hours after the labour a nurse came in with a photograph of the baby. She told me the baby was very poorly and was on a life support machine. I was devastated. The picture showed my baby with wires coming from her body. I was so upset that I couldn’t cuddle my baby. All I had was a poloroid picture. She was born weighing 3lb.
I finally saw my baby hours later, she was so little. Id never saw such a small baby. Lots of wires and beeping machines, a heated blanket. I couldn’t believe it. We named her Lauren. Lauren was in hospital for around 6 months ,as she kept picking up infections and as she was born so prematurely continuing to fight on.
Lauren is now 7. She has Cerebeal Palsy and also a condition called FACS SYNDROME, in which my Epilepsy medication has affected the baby in which these medications do. She to has Athsma, speech delay, very emotional behaviour, facial abnormalities, and is also on the Autistic Spectrum. She cant walk unaided and has a KAYE walker frame to help her walk. She wears a brace and splints on her legs to put them in the correct position. Her and her brother Luke(who also has Cerebral Palsy) require daily, regular physiotherapy. She is a very determined little girl, but is at an age where she now knows she is different and keeps asking “MUM, why am I disabled” Me and Joe have been very truthful and she has taken it ok, but she still says she is disabled all the time. I have told her I was laughing to much at Peter Kaye when I had her and she wants to meet him to ask him why was he making her mummy laugh.
I have gone on to have 3 more children so 5 in total. They are all diagnosed with FACS SYNDROME, and have similar problems to Lauren. They all to attend mainstream school. If any ladies out there are taking Anti Epileptic Medications such as Epilim (Sodium Valproate) Carbamazipine or Phenytoin for any reason please visit my blog emma4oacs.wordpress.com for more information or advice on FACS SYNDROME.
My Boyfriend and I had been together for 8 happy years and Christmas 2006/2007 decided we were ready to expand ourselves!
We were very fortunate to get Pregnant easily and instantly, I was 35 so had some very small worries that it may take some time. We took a pregnancy test on Valentines day and celebrated our wonderful news together and then on Mother's Day shared our news with our very excited, soon to be Grandparents!
We had the 12 week scan and all seemed well. We started to look at Baby clothes, toys etc but didn't buy anything as I'm a little superstitious and also didn't want to know the sex of our baby as we like surprises! I started to grow rapidly and was working full time and feeling really well and absolutely loving being pregnant.
We had our 20 week scan at the beginning of June and my Boyfriend was working so decided to take my mum with me to share the excitement. I laid on the Bed while the nurse started to scan me, and very quickly I sensed that something wasn't right. The room stayed silent for what seemed like ages while the nurse looked deep in concentration at the monitor. She then switched everything off sat me up and told me that she had seen severe abnormalities with my baby.
It was Friday morning and I had to wait until Tuesday for a full in depth and detailed scan of my baby. Those 3 days seemed endless. I waited until my boyfriend got home from work to explain what had happened and we spent 3 days just feeling frightened and also having to discuss the fact that we may lose our baby.
We went for the big scan on Tuesday and were very looked after by all the doctors and nurses. The scan took about 25 minutes and we were then told to go into another little private room. The Doctor then came in and explained to us that our baby had such severe abnormalities that our baby would have zero life quality. We were utterly heartbroken and had to make the terrible decision of ending the pregnancy. We were then sent home and and had to come back on the Thursday morning to be induced.
I gave birth to a little girl at 1.40am on the Friday morning. We named her Rose. The midwives were very kind, compassionate and caring and we were in a private room away from new mummy's and daddy's which I was very grateful for. We had a beautiful funeral for her and she is at rest in a baby garden with lots of other little ones that weren't meant for this world.
I was 22 weeks pregnant when we lost her and she was born on June 8th 2007. Her actual due date should of been October 15th. We came home from the hospital and carried on with our lives but I still had that maternal feeling of wanting to be a Mum.
Well, by August, I was pregnant again. I was really happy to be pregnant but also very frightened. I had several scans throughout the pregnancy and was monitored closely. I had a fairly straightforward pregnancy and once I got past the 20 week scan I did relax a little bit and start to enjoy my pregnancy.
I gave birth to a beautiful 12lb baby on Boy on April 17th 2008! He was a whopper! We named him Wilson and he has fulfilled our lives in a way I could never imagine!
Not a day goes by that I don't think about our beautiful Rosé and I look at some of the Children in my sons class who's birthdays are in October and think what she'd be like now, but i also wonder if it was all supposed to be this way? I'm an optimistic person and although I have moments of terrible sadness about what happened i also except that good things happen in life and sometimes sad things happen too.
I'm hoping that by sharing this story it may help somebody who has suffered baby loss will see my happy ending and give them hope.
It's Baby loss Month in October and all over the country we release balloons on certain days of the month to remember.
We are a very busy and content little family and I hope my story helps. Lots of love to all you wonderful Mummy's, your all doing a grand job! Xxxx
On the morning of the 13th of December I got up as usual and made my mum who was staying with us a cup of tea, asking her how she had slept she mentioned she had had a terrible tummy ache but felt better now. We joked she was getting sympathy contractions for me as she had been getting sympathy nesting instincts all week were I had none. For the past week since my mum had been down we had been doing my pregnancy yoga DVD every day which we had both noted had been making us feel more energetic, we started doing the DVD in the early afternoon and I remember saying it was making me feel a bit sick and sat out some of the exercises.
After the yoga I still felt quite queazy so went to have a lie down, I remember getting up in the evening to watch Studio Ghibli's Castle of Cagliostro but not really enjoying it due to still feeling a bit off. Tom made dinner which I couldn't finish and I decided to call it a night at 10pm. At 12pm I woke up feeling very sick and ended up running to the bathroom to be violently sick for a good half an hour, I returned to bed and started to feel some contraction like pains but ignored them as I had been having Braxton Hicks for the past week or so. At 2am I woke again with some uncomfortable contractions making it impossible to get back to sleep, I suddenly felt sick again and once again spent the next half an hour or so being violently sick.
My mum got up with me and I told her about the contraction type pains, I decided to download a contraction app on my phone in which to time them and we went downstairs as there was no way I could get back to sleep. My mum made me various different drinks in order to keep me hydrated but I found I couldn't stomach any of them I them developed a strong headache I think maybe due lack of water and the strength of the sickness. I used some cooling strips for my head which helped. I was getting contractions every five minutes or so at this point lasting 30 - 45 seconds or so but they were not bothering me. I used my birth ball and just closed my eyes through contractions which made me feel calm, I wouldn't describe them as painful just strong enough to not be able to sleep, at this point I was still convinced it was a false start and was mainly just focusing on getting my headache to go away.
Around 4am (I think?) I told my mum to wake Tom up (I had told him before it was just a false start and to go back to sleep) I still thought it was at this point but think I just wanted him up with us at this point.
I feel the need to mention the tummy bug as this was what started my contractions that put me into labour but do not include this is my labour experience.
I had previously made a play list of my hypnobirth affirmations and music mixed in with some Leonard Cohen/Mamas and Papas and Regina Spektor and decided to start playing it now. I also asked for Tom to set off the aromatherapy oils and during the labour differentiated between Lavender to calm and Clary Sage to speed up contractions.
Tom was put in charge of timing my contractions and at about 6am I called the out of hours midwife to tell her my contractions were 45 seconds and 4-5 mins apart. I was able to speak through my contractions clearly and she informed me that this was the very beginning and it would probably be this evening before anything would happen. She said to call the midwife's when they opened at 9am unless things changed dramatically. I was happy with this as I thought this would probably be the case so wasn't upset by their response. At this point my head was still hurting me but I was able to take down isotonic drinks and no longer felt sick, unfortunately I had ran out of paracetamol the day before so my mum went out to 24 hour Tesco and picked up some more of these supplies. I think at some time around this point I got out the Tens machine not because they were painful as such but mainly as something to do/distract me, I also took two paracetamol. My contractions remained the same for the next few hours and I became convinced they would die down and stop. My mum agreed that being sick would have tensed my stomach muscles into contracting which would have started them off and they could very possibly stop and not progress into labour. At 9am I called the midwifes, I think my headache had gone at this point and I was feeling a lot better.
Funny enough I was supposed to have a midwife appointment at 9.30 that morning so I began the conversation saying 'I'm sorry I'm not going to make the appointment I think I might be in labour, we chatted about how long they were etc and I remember apologising and pausing in our conversation to close my eyes and hum quietly though a contraction. Half way through the conversation I felt a sensation like I had wee'd myself a little and said 'Oh! either I've wee'd myself or my waters have just broken!' My midwife Nikki said she had a few things to clear up at the practise but would pop round in a few hours and see how I was getting on.
After this I felt a lot more positive as my mum was pretty sure my waters had broken too (I kept leaking as such off and on for the next few hours) and this would mean that at some point I was actually going to have a baby! I remember having a sudden energy boost and was happy and chatting knowing things were happening! I think I may have taken the Tens machine off at this point as I felt I wanted a shower and brush my teeth after being so sick.
Nikki arrived around 11am and checked my pads and confirmed my waters had broken. She said I was coping really well through contractions (I was still just using my ball and sort of closing my eyes and humming through them whilst making circular motions on the ball). She said she wasn't going to examine me as if she did and I hadn't progressed by a certain time the hospital would get funny about how long my labour had been and maybe try and get me to come in. I had been expecting her to examine me and tell me how dilated I was so I was a little disappointed at first but when she explained the reason it made perfect sense. She advised to call back if they get a lot longer/quicker or if not to call back around 3.30 anyway to let her know my temperature.
The time between this and calling her back (at 2pm) is sort of a blur, certainly during this time my contractions must have got stronger/faster but I really don't remember them being painful or hard to manage. If I was to describe the sensation it would be sort of annoying more than anything, if I was in an awkward position (for example I sat on a firm hard back chair at one point and this made my back uncomfortable). I know I took a bath at one point but again the position I was in was hurting my back a little so I didn't find it all that helpful. I decided to try the shower instead at some point and this was a great help, my mum gave me a plastic stool and I just sat in there and directed the shower head on my contractions and I could barely feel the sensation. I was even able to nap in there a little, afterwards my mum said she thought I was probably around 5cm at this point (you can tell without examination by the line from your bum apparently).
Going back downstairs my playlist of hypnobirth and calming music drifted in and out of my consciousness and occasionally I would hear things like 'I trust my body' and 'focus on the colour pink' etc mixed in with Leonard Cohen's 'Marianne'
I hadn't eaten anything by this point, I had tried a bite of banana and a bit of toast but both made my sick although this wasn't a violent sort of sick and is quite normal in labour so it wasn't too upsetting. I do remember saying that being sick was my biggest fear, and was worse part so far. Instead I drank lots of isotonic drinks which I was able to keep down and boosted my energy.
At 2pm my contractions were coming on fast and longer (around one and a half minutes and every 30 seconds or so) I called Nikki and she said she would pop by the hospital to pick up the gas and air (which I didn't use in the end)and be over in about an hour. I was still finding the ball a great help, and humming through them with my eyes closed. Still i would not describe the sensation as 'painful' as such, not in the way that falling over or bashing your toe etc more like a intense surge, like a period pain perhaps? I was convinced that I was only barely dilated as was still feeling pretty comfortable (I kept telling Tom & my mum I was sure I would be 2cm so for them not to get their hopes up) because of this I didn't want to get in the pool yet (as it can slow down labour) but instead told Tom to start filling the pool in preparation just in case.
Nikki arrived around 3pm and I had decided to get in the pool about 10 minutes before hand as my contractions had become back to back. I got out the pool to be examined and was shocked to be told I was 9cm! (a few days later Nikki actually told me that by the sound of my voice they assumed I was only 4/5cm and were just as shocked to find I had progressed so far)
At this point I felt pretty excited that it might not be long until he was born and this is another reason I think its good perhaps not to be told how far you are progressing. The previous 'however many' hours had seemingly gone by in a blur, I was unaware of time so it didn't feel like very long at all. But knowing I was so close then made the next two hours seem very long. Unfortunately I had a lip on my cervix which was causing me to not progress any further, I had started to feel 'pushy' shortly after being examined (not sure if this was because I thought I was close or not) and with every push Nikki and my mum would say 'well done!' or 'thats great, your doing brilliantly' which made me think something was happening.
Up until this point I had felt totally calm and relaxed but the frustration of awareness of time made me start to get a little impatient and I remember saying 'you keep saying well done but nothing is happening!' and 'how long do you think it will be??'. I then remember feeling ashamed for being rude and apologising. This point in labour was the first time I started to feel uncomfortable, the sensation of wanting to push was making me feel very primal and I remember making the most embarrassing 'roar' noise. I was holding on to the handles of the pool, roaring and then pushing myself underwater with the strength of the push. It was at this point I began to feel suddenly tired, and said to my mum 'I can do it but I'm just so tired, can I take a break and try again tomorrow?' and Nikki saying 'but you've done so well you done want to start again!' to which I remember saying 'no we'll just pause it here and come back to the same point'.
Still the sensation was not of that of pain but of physical endurance, I would liken it to running a marathon (not that I have done) but in that the act of running is not exhausting but the act of running a great distance over a large amount of time is. Also the fact that the contractions in them self were not painful but the fact they were coming as soon as the last one had finished gives you no time to catch your breath or rest in between. My main memory of this part of labour was leaning against the side of the pool like a boxer leaning against the ropes and my mum squirting water in my mouth and wiping my brow between pushes. I think I even mentioned the comparison between a boxer and myself at the time!
At about 6pm the second midwife Frances turned up, I said hi and then mentioned again that it was taking a very long time to which she replied 'nature takes its time' which struck a cord with me and I decided then to not complain again. It was at this time that Nikki decided to examine me again and see if she could push the last bit of cervix out the way. I got out the pool to be told I was 10cm at last, hurrah! I felt that going back in the pool would continue the cycle of things taking a long time so Tom lent against the wall and I lent into him and I was told to keep pushing! I was still making this funny 'roar' noise for the first few pushes but Frances said that doing this was putting all my energy into the noise and not the push, which made sense. I was told to hold my breath and push into my bum, which was funny as my pregnancy yoga and NCT classes had made a point of telling us to breath into the push not hold our breath and the importance of being upright to let gravity help. Neither of which worked for me in the end!
Because of the two hours I had been pushing in the pool and the encouragement from Nikki and my mum in regards to my progress I was suspicious of their 'yes that's great' 'your doing so well' comments whilst pushing. I assumed they were just being encouraging and that again nothing was actually happening, at some point both midwives put on plastic aprons and Tom saying 'see something is happening Fritha, people don't put on plastic aprons if nothing is happening' I have no idea of time but suddenly my mum said 'do you want to feel the head Fritha?' and then it seemed like one big push and I had a baby! Tom laughs at me when we reminisce about this part as he said I still didn't seem to believe anything was happening and suddenly I had a baby! The final pushes did sting I'm not going to lie but this is the only part I would describe as 'painful' as such but only lasted a few minutes. I ended up getting stitches due to the angle he came out (but they just numb the area and so you cannot feel this part at all).
Wilfryd was born at 7.05pm on the 15th of December weighing 9,02lbs to Leonard Cohen's 'Famous Blue Raincoat' (which I was glad of rather than the plinky plonky hypnobirth music which is a little less cool). He was placed in my arms with me leaning against Tom and we just stared at him listening to his crying being the most amazing sound we had ever heard. He started to nurse straight away and I just stroked his hair and looked at his perfect scrunched up face. This little person I had grown inside me for nine months, writing him letters and feeling his little kicks and punches was here and it was like always had been.
I thought this was the end but clearly I still had to push out the placenta which is the part where things perhaps did not go to plan, I had been pushing for an hour and nothing was happening so Nikki advised I should try the injection to help get it out. I asked her what would happen if I had this injection and it still wasn't coming out to which I was told I would have to go into surgery to remove it but this was very unlikely. I opted for the injection but didn't feel too concerned at this point as I was too engrossed in my baby and anything else seemed a little inconsequential. Still however the placenta wasn't budging, once you have the injection you only have a short amount of time before the cervix closes again and I became aware of the midwives discussing hospital which is when I started to take notice! I knew that this was it and I was going to be dammed if I had to go to hospital now! I also remember looking over to my mum and seeing her looking a little concerned which made me realise this was serious. With a couple of big pushes and what felt like an immense amount of effort it came out just in time and by god it was huge!
I realise I am very lucky to have had such an easy and pleasant birth. I know that things can go wrong and that some people find it very traumatic/painful and I don't attempt to undermine their experiences by saying this but I actually enjoyed childbirth, yes it was hard work, physically exhausting and long but it was amazing. My birth didn't go exactly as planned, for example I didn't have the waterbirth I had hoped for, the tummy bug that put me into labour was unpleasant (but I don't count that part as labour) and had some trouble with delivering the placenta but I am very happy with the way it went. I'm not sure if it was being at home/the hypnobirth/having my mum as well as Tom there/perhaps having a high pain threshold (or a combination of the lot) but felt straight away that I would do it again. I also believe that fear heightens pain and I never once felt fear, exasperation and tiredness yes but never fear I feel empowered after giving birth, I brought a life into this world, after doing that I feel I can do anything.
Where to start. At the beginning I suppose. I found out I was pregnant at Glastonbury, sitting on a wooden plank suspended above a stinking cesspit. Things with my partner were not all that serious, we hadn't been together very long and certainly hadn't planned on starting a family. But fate had other plans, or so it seemed. I told him the news and let him decide what role, if any, he wanted to play, but either way I was going to be a mum. He decided he wanted to be a dad, so we became a couple.
The pregnancy developed almost entirely normally, yes there were worried moments, but we reached every milestone, every scan, every 'safe point'. Then I fell ill. Nothing serious, just felt like I had flu. We went to the GP, who said nothing to worry about, just a mild infection, take these antibiotics and if the pain gets too bad, take a couple of paracetamol.
Maybe we were stupid, maybe we were just naive, or maybe we were just too trusting. The pain did get worse, a lot worse, and I took the pills and tried to ignore it. It was just an infection after all, nothing to worry about. The next morning things were bad, the pain was so bad we decided to go to the hospital and called a cab. Waiting for the cab I collapsed and so we called an ambulance. I still didn't know what was wrong, I had no idea my life was about to fall apart.
We got to the hospital, the white blanket replaced with a red one, and the paramedic asked the nurse if they should take me straight to delivery. That's when I knew. My baby was born, sleeping, half an hour later. We had a boy, a son, the midwife told us. We named him Ben.
The next few days, minutes and hours, were a blur. I remember a blessing service, with the hospital chaplain, posing for photographs with our baby wrapped in a blue floral blanket, not the happy photos of exhausted smiling new parents, but faces frozen like stone, no life in our eyes.
I remember collecting the tiny ashes casket from the engravers ready for his funeral, and having a fight with an animal rights protester for not signing their petition below photos of vivisected dogs. He yelled at me 'do you not care that animals are being tortured?' 'my baby just died' I screamed at him. It was the first time I ever said those words.
I remember the funeral, being stood with my family around a tiny brown wooden shoe box sized coffin on an alter designed for an adult, with a single white rose on it. I remember a meeting with the consultant at the hospital, him saying to us that our baby boy was perfect, he had just died, no reason for it at all. Just bad luck. But you are young, there will be more babies. And there were more. The next two years saw two more babies, first a girl, and then a boy.
And then came the letter. 2 years after out baby Ben had gone, we got a letter from the hospital who carried out his post mortem asking us what we wanted to be done with his organs. We all knew about the organ retention scandal, when it happened we asked if our son was one of those affected and were told no no no, he was too small, nothing would have been kept.
We called the helplines, arranged a meeting. 3 months later we were sat in a small room, the bereavement room they called it, in a hospital 30 miles away from us, in front of a beautifully carved wooden box, sitting next to a box of kleenex on the table. ' We have a copy of your babys post mortem report' the lady said to us 'but before we give it to you, we need to talk to you about something important'.
She went on to tell us that we didn't have a son, we had never had a son, we had had a daughter, and that she had died due to a brain haemorrhage It transpired the midwife who delivered our baby was inexperienced, our baby girls genitals were swollen and she mistakenly thought he was a boy. This can happen with small babies. Our hospital knew, they had known within a few days, a week before we had 'him' cremated, but they hadn't told us. Why they hadn't. nobody really knows. The hospital 'misplaced' her records, the consultant who told us our baby boy had been perfect had retired. They were sorry.
We were given the wooden box to open, it was packed full of what looked like blocks of soap and pieces of glass. They were every organ from our daughters body, preserved in wax, and some cut into slides. We decided we wanted our baby to be complete again. We arranged a second funeral, we had a pink coffin, packed with a stuffed toy rabbit, and the organs and the ashes. We had pink balloons, and pink ribbons, and pink flowers shaped like teddy bears, and we had a proper pink and girly send off for our daughter.
I have never been a pink person, but after all the time of coming to terms with losing a son, we needed to acknowledge our daughter and say hello and goodbye to her in a way that befitted a proper little girl.
We named her Benecia, and we bought her a beautiful headstone full of pinkness, and fairies and pixies and bunnies.
The guilt will never leave me,the guilt of knowing my body didn't manage to do the one thing it was designed to do, nurture and protect the life growing inside it, but also the guilt of not knowing, not realising that she was not a boy, he was a girl. I am her mum and I should have known.
When either of my daughters achieved something , however, hard or easy, that meant a lot to them. What was unexpected about becoming a mum was realising how little I knew in some areas and how much in others! One of my grown up daughters gave me a plaque which said " You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool Mum!".. .And for me being a mum means : to love unconditionally, nurturing, encouraging, bonding, interacting and safeguarding.
My 4, nearly 5 year old is highly sensitive. How did I come to this conclusion? A book. “The Highly Sensitive Child” by Elaine N Aron. (HSC) How did I come across the book? Well, Ollie has always been clingy, hates noise, doesn’t like change and is very risk averse. As someone who works in arts and play, is a Change Manager and encourages risk taking and being social this was quite difficult for me! The hand dryers in public toilets frightened him and he wouldn’t even stay with another parent and friend without me even if he knew them really well and their child had been with us on her own a hundred times! Then, about a year ago, a good friend told me that she had discovered that her daughter was highly sensitive and that Ollie was and that I should get the aforementioned book.
A revelation! There’s a True/False questionnaire of 23 statements. Get more than 13 and bingo. Ollie got 16. It even says you could have an HSC if your child has 2 of them but strongly. Well he has that too! The questionnaire can be found here - http://www.hsperson.com/pages/test_child.htm It includes things like; “doesn’t do well with big changes”, “seems very intuitive”, “very sensitive to pain”, “considers if it is safe before climbing high”. Bought the book and then read it! It was a useful read, It is very American in places (for example, it suggests taking days off etc. for which in the UK would be an “unauthorised absence” and speaking to the head teacher about which teacher you would like your child to have because they are good with HSCs! Can you imagine?!) However, there are some really good tips and there are areas that you think “Ah that’s why he does that!” In fact probably the most useful thing I got from the book was realising that he is NOT shy, he is highly sensitive. There is a big difference. People always say “He’s so shy (I used to and don’t anymore because it’s inaccurate!) or he hasn’t got any confidence” when he stays with me or won’t join in an activity, but give him time and he doesn’t stop talking and once he’s assessed the situation he’ll join in! My friend’s daughter is different, she shows that she is overwhelmed by getting aggressive. It’s the feeling things deeply (often presenting as a seemingly overreaction) and thinking and pondering on without realising that many other children would brush off that we have to be careful about. So the book was extremely helpful in changing my mindset slightly, not thinking of him in terms of being shy and over reacting but being sensitive and becoming overwhelmed and thinking about that.
The author tells us that if your toddler drops your keys down the shop escalator you shouldn’t go mad and shout because of all the inconvenience it is going to cause. Please! Yes of course it’s the same as them dropping them on the floor but really, who is going to not get really annoyed? Anyone? Well Superwoman keep away from me because you make me feel thoroughly inferior! In theory of course it’s right and of course the HSC is going to feel it more deeply but let’s get real, we aren’t going to get it right everytime and some situations are just plain stressful! The HSC will survive, but not too well if shouted at and berated at every opportunity. There you may find a big difference anyway, Ollie loves his routine and anyone breaking it, he tells off! So he actually gets told off less than many of his peers. No knocking any character building and assertiveness though and there’s the fine line isn’t it?
It took some getting through the book before I finally got the sentence I believed the most though. “You need the patience of a Saint” yep, and I don’t have it! The very slow decision making, the fussiness with food (won’t eat that piece of meat now that it has a herb on it!), the sticking like glue... But on the flip side apparently HSCs are less likely to take to drink and drugs when they are older so that’s good!!
I knew already he didn’t like noise and lots of people but it upset me (and still does to some degree) that he didn’t like parties as I felt that he was missing out. There was the crunch. If you think/know you have a HSC you will know what I mean. You go to parties and your child doesn’t want to join in. S/he watches by the side, puts hand over ears and then possibly will join in for the last ten minutes as children are going home and it’s getting quieter. Similarly leaving him at nursery, he took a long time to settle, I had to stay a long time each day but that got shorter and he never cried as we got into a routine. Compare this with the child that just gets left each day and cries. (Of course it works for many, probably most children, up to a couple of days and they are off happily enjoying themselves but is ISN’T right for all children). We were lucky that we had a nursery where staff kept their practice up to date and were happy for me to stay. I know of a nursery attached to a school nearby which closes doors after a week and parents/carers have to leave regardless of how much the child is crying. How distressing for both child and parent/carer. I’ll say it again for anyone who thinks that it’s ok to leave all kids whether they are crying or not (and I’m not talking about the child who stops the instant you walk out the door!) before they have fully settled into nursery, it isn’t. Nurseries have policies around Meeting Individual Child’s Needs. Just as one child likes art and another likes maths, or one child can’t have milk and you provide accordingly, so you should for a child’s emotional needs. I never forced Ollie to get away from me and join in or go into rooms he didn’t want to just to “make him enjoy himself”. However frustrating that was for me and believe me it is! You can’t do that however much one feels he’s missing out. But oh do some parents without an HSC have no understanding?! “Just leave him and go” “Make him come in” and similar comments. Why? Why would I do that? Would you put your young child into a room where they are scared, or really hate something? You’d ignore your child’s emotional needs? Really? Would you take your young child into a room full of snakes if they were screaming, insecure and petrified? No. So why would I take my child into a room which he finds overwhelming and then leave him there to scream and cry for 2 hours? Any of these things could scar children. They will remember the time as when you, the person they trust above all else forced them to do something that was so horrible to them it upset them more than anything else ever! You left them when you needed you. But the parents who have a HSC what a support! Ollie went to a party at a soft play place which he has been to many times before so I actually thought he would be okay. He wasn’t, he was still overwhelmed (and that’s what parties do to HSCs). I almost felt embarrassed, but the mother of the birthday boy was great “Don’t worry his older brother was always like that.” I picked up on the past tense....
Then there is the wonderful Julia. Mother to Peter aged 9 years and Jane 4 years. Having met when Jane and Ollie were 6 months we became good friends and it became apparent that Ollie was like Peter. It began to show around 2 years old, the fussy eater, the hater of noise, the dislike of change, the uncomfortable parties. Each thing Julia would say, that’s like Peter. Julia doesn’t have that awful habit of saying you should do this because I have a child older than yours so you should listen kind of way! (You know the types I mean! You could be a terrible parent, just because you have children it doesn’t mean you know better than the person who doesn’t, nor does having older or more children mean you know better than another parent either. In fact, who do I go to for the most advice? My best friend. She doesn’t have children but was an exceptionally good teacher and now a fantastic headteacher. I don’t ask just about education either! In fact now I think of it, the amount I ask probably annoys her!) Anyway, I digress, back to lovely Julia. After a while I started to pre-empt a discussion by asking “Did Sam.....?” When it invariably gets a yes it’s usually followed up by “When did it stop/change/develop...” (Which might counteract my argument earlier about people having older children but you get my gist and she’s ASKED!) That’s been great. So if you have an HSC one of the best things you can have is a friend of a similar older one! (Although all HSCs present differently as the book describes and indeed Annabel’s daughter mentioned earlier gets very aggressive when she is overwhelmed. Annabel (who is one of those mothers who you never see shout and you live in awe of) has learnt how to deal with it well and has said that after reading the book she gets on a lot better with Isla and she has calmed down a bit! Certainly the tantrums (which are more frequent and last longer into an HSCs life (in age not necessarily duration)) are fewer, they’d be fewer still if I could just remember not to shout as it achieves nothing! When I remember this, it works really well. (That’s probably all kids though isn’t it?!)
One of the most ridiculous things I was told by a parent who had no understanding of a HSC was when Ollie was about 2 years and he wouldn’t go anywhere without me and she said it was because I carried him (sling) for the first 9 months or so of his life! Please don’t ever think that about your child or a friend’s child. It’s hurtful to hear and it couldn’t be more wrong. Google “Attachment Theory” and all the benefits of “wearing” your child, not least the amount of crying being reduced by a significant amount! Wikipedia definition http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attachment_theory Therefore, given the enormous benefits for all babies imagine how much more it is benefiting the HSC! S/he would cry so much more if you weren’t given him/her that extra security.
In hindsight, I now know that the baby massage I took Ollie to which he adored, over stimulated him! Every other baby zonked out and slept really well that night. Ollie? Woke up 3 times a night to be fed. Now older, any new situations, activities, or busy days which for other children you would say, “He’ll sleep well” will keep him awake for a long time before his over stimulated brain lets him sleep. He’ll usually sleep well the following night! HSC’s are processing everything, they take in far more than you would think, observing the details. So of course they tend to be bright because they take so much in! (Not my words, honest!!)
I wondered about the security muslins he’s always had. Will he ever get rid of them? Again other parents saying oh “oh just get rid of them” “Make sure they are gone by nursery” “get rid of them at Xmas” The most funny thing was hearing this from people whose children still had a dummy? Huh? The muslins went everywhere and we just reduced them gradually. Without any fuss thank you very much, he went to nursery without them. Only once did he ask for one when he fell over and really hurt himself. Staff didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. He has reduced it for himself in his own time. He has them at bed time and a comfort. Why would you take that comfort away? especially (sometimes added with a pinch of, when you don’t take YOUR child’s dummy away at night time) was often an internal cry! Same as using the potty. HIS potty. Bet many mothers have had that?! The nuisance of having to take the one and only potty everywhere. Apparently I was the same! But didn’t realise just how common it is! You know what? The many many people who saw me do this who said their child/grandchild etc. was the same? Not one of them said they denied the child their own potty. People who advise it are people who have not had a child attached to their potty!! And you know what else? With gradual encouragement he got rid of it himself. When we thought he was ready and he had something to aim for, we discussed with him and encouraged him over some days (we are going on aeroplane and we won’t be able to take it will we?!) and made a big thing of congratulating him and letting him put it in the bin forever so it couldn’t come back. He did it in his own time. I always said it was the penalty for him being dry and clean at night within two weeks and the only 2 accidents he did have was because he was in a new and therefore strange place! It all went too easily!
Ollie has 3 really good friends that he sees nearly every day. One quite sensitive like himself and with similar maths and science interests and whose brother is at nursery and another friend in reception the latter two being the first to run away and the first to climb anything and everything. It’s helpful and nice that we all have very similar concerns we can share or completely opposite ones to discuss and usually laugh about! We’ve given them all their job titles in their future Company! Because the children are all so different they all get the best (rarely the worst... yet) from each other and that’s the best you can hope for when it comes to friendships for your child isn’t it? That, similar manners and you get on with the parents of course!
Here is a good article about HSC and some tips http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/creative-development/201206/highly-s...
For Helen’s blog see www.thecomplainingcow.co.uk for a humorous look at effectively complaining!
If you would like space to be supported with the challenges of mothering, or just need some rest and nurturing, explore the Mamas' Retreats and one-to-one support that we offer at Story of Mum - we'd love to look after you so that you can look after your children.
This one is dedicated to my husband for Father's Day :)
I look at our life and I am grateful for what we have. I look at our life and I see all the ups and the downs and the many curve balls along the way. I see all the scrifices we made, willingly or otherwise. I remember all the sighs and the disappointments at what could’ve been, the obstacles we had to overcome. I see it all and smile, despite all of that I am grateful. We have built a life I am proud of and happy to be in.
We have built this life brick by brick and laid down its foundations. We worked hard and we have a lot to show for it: 2 daughters that light up our lives and give us the drive and ambition to push forward. They give meaning to every decision we take and purpose to every move we make. We are able to provide them with lots of love, hugs and smiles, a home, good schools, and all the necessities of life. We can’t always give the luxuries but when we do, they appreciate them. They will learn the value of it all and be better people for it!
We have our moments, we’ve questioned our decisions and whether this is the life we wanted. I look around and see my life for what it really is and I wouldn’t change a thing. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean I am not ambitious and strive to improve myself and my life every day. I mean that I am content with what I have, I don’t regret how I got here and will continue to work towards what I want.
I look back and wonder if I would do things differently and I see some things could’ve been done better, others differently but overall, we are where we should be and I am sure we will get to where we want to be. We have built a life where we can always to turn to one another and be each other’s support. How can I want anything else in life.
I love you xo
I had a very traditional Indian upbringing. I was born just outside Nairobi in 1959; I was one of six children, the oldest girl. My mum had had a child almost every year, there were a lot of us to wash, dress, and feed. She was constantly either breastfeeding, or expecting the next baby. I remember her doing my hair; mine used to have two plaits. I used to cry a lot when she combed my hair, she didn’t have time to be slow and gentle.
I was frightened of my mum - I never even told her when I broke my leg, I just pined until she realised something was wrong. The truth is my mother had six children and I wasn’t her favourite; I couldn’t go to her, even with my deepest troubles. So I never relied on my mum for advice on bringing up my own kids; my faith became a far greater guide.
I didn’t develop my faith until I took the children to the temple to learn Gujarati. I used to sit in and listen to the presentations on Hinduism, and that’s how I became interested in my faith. I have to thank my children for that! Even before my faith became stronger, I did bring up my children with the ethos of Karma. If you do good things, you’ll get good things.
I became a single parent when my own children were 16 and 14, and I divorced from my husband. We had to move away to a new town, to a new school, leaving old friends behind. The 14 year old found it very challenging. He was taller than me, bigger than me; it was quite intimidating because he had a lot of anger following the divorce. When he turned 18 and the aggression was still there, I was actually physically frightened. So I gave him an ultimatum on his birthday: shape up or ship out. He shipped out to his dad’s.
One of my children had gone; it was like a bereavement. He didn’t keep in touch, so for almost two years I had very little contact with my youngest son, my baby. That was the biggest challenge to my motherhood. He’s 27 now; that was 10 years ago. We see each other regularly now, we socialise together; we go out for meals and to the cinema. I still think, if I hadn’t kicked him out, he wouldn’t be the nice man as he is now. I made the right decision. I didn’t want to be frightened in my own home.
Bharti's story is featured at London's Museum of Motherhood, due to launch at the V & A Museum of Childhood on Thursday 21st June, along with a book. All revenue from ticket and book sales will go to fund Proshanti, a charity supporting maternal healthcare work in Bangladesh. You can buy tickets here for the launch and follow them on facebook and twitter.
You can also win a pair of tickets to the launch by joining our next mums' Make Date. Join us on twitter on 20 June 8.30pm – 9.30pm BST (other timezones here) using the hashtag #somum for a chat and a doodle: Museum of Mum. To see what a Twidoodle's all about, check out our first ever attempt last month... Hope to see you there!
As a former teacher I learnt very quickly that the best teachers never stop learning! I am also learning that becoming a mum means whatever you want it to mean. This is my own mum story so far which, despite starting at an early age, has only really just begun. I hope it can encourage you, wherever you are at on your mum journey.
As a little girl my Mum and Dad always wanted me to have fun, be creative and live life to the full. Together they taught me the joy of being a child, teaching me how to see God in whatever I did and said, and also how to listen for His voice. We would enjoy hours of creative time together exploring, learning and being child- like together.
But a few years on family life changed dramatically as my mum started to have a nervous breakdown, and suddenly life became a lesson in survival. The singing, writing and art times that we had enjoyed together became the tools and vehicles I used to deal with the emotions and struggles of family life, and when my brother came along I passed these techniques on to him.
Pretty soon every day became a question of ‘whatever’. My family remained the same in Spirit, child-like and faithful; but mentally, physically and emotionally we were broken and disjointed. When Mum eventually left to go into a psychiatric ward, ‘whatever’ took on a new role and so did I.
Whatever life threw at me I learnt how to deal with it with my increasingly large armoury of skills and emotional intelligences. Day in and day out I would have no idea what the day would bring and so I would do what I could to bring stability and security to my family. It was exhausting.
As an adult and at university, ‘whatever’ became a freedom and exploration process. Suddenly anything was possible and without the unpredictability of my family circumstances I found I could create my own security. But I could never shake the overwhelming need to be needed. I searched for people who needed support and encouragement and was never happier than when I was helping someone through their own situation.
After university I moved back home and life became unpredictable again, but now I had experienced another kind of life so my situation seemed much more painful. I taught myself that the only way to stop life from being unpredictable was to control every element of it. Within a few years I was exhausted and felt an utter failure.
It was at this time that I came to a point where I was forced to accept the spiritual path of ‘whatever’. I found this place to be a hiding place and a pool of peace. My faith in God made ‘whatever’ feel safe and secure. I didn’t have to be in control, I just had to accept that God was.
Meeting my husband later on in life meant that ‘whatever’ became an unconditional love and mutual understanding, and then it took on a whole new meaning again when I became a youth and children’s worker. I learnt that this kind of whatever meant “I don’t care” and was often coupled with the incredibly unhelpful “Am I bothered?” (the irony of these phrases are that they often come from young people that are actually incredibly bothered by everything!)
Within this role I quickly realised that many of the young people I spoke to were involved with emotionally and physically supporting their families the way I did as a child. I suddenly found I had a whole group of children and young people who felt supported and cared for by me. I created a project called ‘Raise’ which to this day supports children and young people by raising their self- esteem and confidence, with a particular focus on young carers.
And now I have a little boy. Now ‘whatever’ means allowing life to ebb and flow around us. He teaches me how to live in peace on a daily basis. We can do and not do as we please and this makes us happy. I believe all that has gone before has brought me to this place. I still feel the need to be in control but now it feels like a choice and not a necessity.
My son’s middle name is Elijah, and in the Bible Elijah was provided for by ravens (1 Kings 17:4). My maiden name is Raven, and I believe that despite the varying circumstances they find themselves in, my family will always be provided for. I am free to lead my son to be creative and child-like, and my prayer is that he never has to use them to ward off challenges and unpredictability as I did.
Thank you for taking the time to join me for my memorable moment of mum. Enjoy finding out more about all those other amazing mums and their “whatever” journeys.
You’re doing a great job, don’t let anyone tell you any differently.
Things I've done this week that aren't Perfect
Forgot to get my daughter Miss 15 an American Visa she was nearly sent home from her hockey tour.
Nearly hit a man on his red moped yesterday in the city (sorry mate).
No clean uniform for my son this morning, then he remembered it was fress dress
No laundry done for 2 days
My bedroom is a mess
My bathroom is a mess
Went to a meeting on child behaviour and some of the stuff they said made me cross
Teacher's small Easter gift is still sitting on my desk
Drink far too much coffee
Sleep far too little
Obsess about my new website & linking my blogs and articles
Not responding to emails as fast as I'd like- get side tracked with Twitter & blogging & writing
Getting a little grumpy with myself
Not keeping in touch with my girlfriends
Slept in my clothes last night (it did Save time this morning though)
Not had a daily walk
Not drinking enough water
Had takeaway 1 night
Had reheated takeaway the 2nd night
Haven't brushed my teeth for longer than a minute (sure my timer is broken takes forever 2minutes)
My filing tray has not been filed its now spreading to the floor
Its not even 1pm and I want a glass of bubbles
Not keeping on top of my invoicing
And guess what I'm Ok about it all, its really just sort of small stuff and after the glass of bubbles I'll see what I can get done in an 2 hours, because I've just remembered school breaks up early.
Have a great Friday, nothing needs to be perfect for YOU to feel OK :)
‘Let’s have a baby’ I declared one evening to my unsuspecting husband when I got home from work. And so we did. We started trying straight away and I fell pregnant the next month with our beautiful little boy.
And so I had assumed that number two would be just as easy.
Dalton was five months old when I first started thinking about number two, (madness, I know!) but we decided to wait until he was a year. First birthday (somewhat emotionally) celebrated, and so we started our journey that would take us over 2 years, cost well over £13,000 and bring endless hours of heartache to bring a sibling into the world for our treasured son.
After 6 months of trying, I did fall pregnant but I knew in my heart right from the start that something wasn’t right and after an early scan and were devastated to hear the news which confirmed my fears; that our baby had stopped growing.
For anyone that has suffered the heartache of a miscarriage, (a staggering approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies in the UK), you know the emotional pain that we went through at that time, and even now I blow a goodnight kiss to my lost little one every night and will always feel there is one missing. But as women only know how to, I was determined to overcome defeat and I knew I had to keep trying.
Another six months passed by, and once again I listened to my instincts and insisted that the doctors undertake some basic tests even though I was being told to just be patient! When the results came back, we learnt that Dalton is truly our meant to be baby – against all the odds, and the chances of us conceiving a child without medical assistance were practically non-existent.
I don’t think I really stopped long enough to take it all in. I remember clearly the phone call giving me the ghastly statistics, thought for a minute or two ’are they saying I will never have another child?’, dismissed this idea almost immediately and got on the phone to the fertility clinic to book our first appointment.
The treatment itself is really not too bad. Even though you think you won’t be able to inject yourself, when push comes to shove you will. And the side effects are manageable. But I did really struggled with the guilt I put myself through. I had one, delicious and perfect little boy who I could not adore any more. Why wasn’t he enough for me? And even though I was confident that he wanted a sibling and that my husband wanted another child, I also new that both my boys would have been completely content to keep things just as they were.
Even though I new the odds were stacked against us, it never crossed my mind that the treatment would not work – after all we did have Dalton and we therefore new that we could conceive a child together – we just needed a helping hand so to speak! When cycle one was unsuccessful, I was completely devastated but we picked ourselves up, brushed ourselves down and started treatment again as soon as I was physically able to do so. During cycle two, I developed suspected Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome and was forced to freeze my embryos. Another set back and more heartache. But following Frozen Embryo transfer, I got my BFP (big fat positive) and I now have the most beautiful 7 month old baby girl – Belle.
And I was right – Dalton is a brilliant big brother and insists on singing the Fireman Sam theme tune every evening to “his baby sister” just as he did when she was still in Mummy’s tummy.
So for all of you mums and mum-to-bes out there, I would urge you to listen to your instincts and never give up hope. Health professionals are a mind of amazing information and should of course be listened to for any advice you can procure, but ultimately, you know your body and your limits better than anyone. Only you know what you are willing to go through and only you will know that insatiable desire for a child which no matter how hard you try to ignore just can not be silenced – and so it shouldn’t. From one mum that has had quite a journey, I can promise you that every single tear is so, so worth it.
Sally Hall is co-founder of www.dorothyandtheodore.com and mum to Dalton, aged 4 and Belle aged 7 months.
So many memorable moments as a mum, where do I start? Here is a story of probably most memorable and proudest moments.
I would just like to let you know a little about Jessica. When we found out I was pregnant we were very happy. We already had a 2yr old called Amelia and could not wait for them to be playing and fighting together. I always wanted a big family.
I had a perfect pregnancy other than the usual complaints. At 36 weeks we did have a bit of a scare as the midwife thought she was breech so we bundled up to the hospital to have a scan. All turned out to be fine, she had either flipped in the time it took to get there or the midwife was wrong.
The doctor told me to see someone at the GP surgery the next week just to make sure she hadn't moved again. A week later I saw one of the doctors at the surgery and all was fine, that was the last ever time we heard her heartbeat.
Then at 38 weeks, on 19th July 2007, I went to see the midwife and she could no longer find her heartbeat. She was not my normal midwife and had not been working in the community long and for some reason I found myself feeling sorry for her. Her appointments had been running late (I went in nearly half an hour after my appointment time) and there were lots of people needing to be seen so, although she was adamant to stay with me while I waited for a lift to the hospital, one of the receptionist kept me company in one of the doctors rooms that wasn't being used.
My lift finally arrived, after what felt like an age, and I met Graham up at the hospital where I had two scans on two different machines. I kept imagining that it was all a dream and I swear I saw a flicker of a heartbeat on the screen but my eyes must of been deceiving me. The consultant confirmed that our baby had died and went through what would happen next. They gave me tablets to induce labor and sent me home.
I remember sitting in my front room, with a blur of people round me, still feeling her move but the doctor had already warned me that I may feel some movements as she "sloshed" in the fluid. It was then that made me think I had to change my mindset. For the last 8 months I had thought I would be going home with a baby, but now I wasn't, I felt like I had to detach myself.
I tried not to "love" my belly, as I had been, to get used to the idea. It was as if I were fighting myself against something so natural and it hurt like hell.
The next day I sorted my hospital bag, as I knew I wouldn't be needing everything in it, it shrunk considerably in size. Graham had already moved the crib out of our bedroom and there was a gaping hole where it was as well as in my bag and heart.
We headed back to the hospital that afternoon, as I hadn't gone into labour I needed to take more tablets.
At 3am on Saturday morning I started to have contractions, by 7am they were 5mins apart so again we headed to the hospital.
As I walked into the labour ward and I felt like everyone was staring at me with pity. It was the most horrible feeling ever, I just wanted to scream and shout but I don't know what stopped me. Once I got settled and booked in the contractions slowed done so we went for a walk and had some breakfast.
The day progressed slowly as I wondered what my baby would look like and how we were going to explain to Amelia that we could not bring the sibling home that she was so looking forward to meeting.
Looking back now, I don't remember much about the labour. I'm not sure if that is to do with the fact I was heavily dosed on morphine or the that our brains can "forget" bad experiences.
Finally, at 39 weeks gestation, on 21st July 2007 at 9:01pm Jessica Lillie Grace was born weighing 6lb 13ozs. She looked perfect, everything was there fingers and toes; she was the spitting image of her sister. The only thing that was different was there was no crying, the one thing we had longed to hear for 9 months.
We had cuddles, got her dressed and took pictures. The midwife took a lock of hair and done prints of her hands and feet for us. I had to stay in hospital that night as my temperature had spiked, all I wanted to do was go home and curl up in my own bed.
We had a full post mortem done, as there were no outward signs as to why she died. Both Graham and myself had blood tests also, but nothing came up. It was, and still is; very hard to accept that we will never know why she died.
We opted for Jessica's ashes to be buried at a beautiful place called Olney Green Burial Ground, just outside of Milton Keynes. Instead of a headstone you have a tree, we chose an Oak tree for her. In years from now it will be a huge coppice full of wonderful wildlife. It is a lovely place to visit and we feel instantly calmed when we go there.
Jessica will be 6 this year (2013) and we have been running a charity in her name for a year now. We wanted to go away shortly after she died but could not find anywhere that catered for bereaved parents only respite for families with disabled or terminally ill children.
Hence the beginning of The Jessica Sherman Foundation, I want to help other parents and their friends and families, give them somewhere to go and stay, where people understand what they are going through and not just pretending they do. We are also fundraising for research as stillbirth figures have been mostly unchanged for the last 20yrs and in fact rose in the last year. We look to help hospitals too by funding education days for professionals and bereavement suites.
I am very proud to be Jessica's mum I just hope she feels the same for me.
Love- rage- games-skipping- rounders- baby clothes- cuddles-kisses- flowers
toys- bear- card- presents- shoes- bags-party dress- tap dancing shoes with taps on.
Singing competitions- Brownies- school - books- pens pencil.
First evening dress- silver bag..
I'm still the' old bear', but even after all this time, we are happy.
Still miss Fred, but will join him one day.
Feel very grateful to have been a Mum and anow another good life as Nana Jean
to Aaron, Scott, Rebecca and Richard.
I love them all to bits.
We had quite a difficult journey towards having my second daughter. I had 3 miscarriages in a year and I felt like my body was broken. Like many women I'd had a mixed relationship with itslooks and now I began to question its function as well.
On Mother's Day I had a positive pregnancy test followed by 8 months of mixed wonder and fear. On 3 separate occasions they took me into a room with tissues as there was a possibility I'd lose her - I had 5 different consultants, for 5 different mistakes my body made including catching slap geek, getting gestational diabetes, having a low-lying placenta, etc etc.
I went from day to day with my toddler, hardly daring to hope. At 8 months a consultant said she needed to be born straight away, she'd stopped moving & my fluid with low. They warned me that because my body wasn't working she needed to be born then but that it might affect her accademically among other things.
After a difficult induction, she was born, small, sleepy, not really moving. She had the cord wrapped twice around her neck. I kept asking if she was ok & the Dr wouldn't reply.
Eventually they told me she needed to go to special baby care & that they'd put her on me to wheel us along the corridor. The moment she touched me I saw a small patch of pink appear on her dark purple body. As I held her it slowly spread like sun breaking through the clouds & I watched her turn pink.
By the time we got to special baby care they told us she had no place there. She was going to be mostly fine without it.
I had spent 2 years being told my body was broken, but I had been magic just for one moment and mended my daughter.
Sometimes on a bad day I watch my happy, funny, bright nearly 3 year old & think 'I did that. I made you and I fixed you.' And I'm a lot easier on my body.
We all have guardian angels in our lives, people who boost our energy and support us through life's ups and downs. Basically, they improve our lives and make it fun.
The last few years have been quite eventful for me and not always in a good way. They really took their toll on me, emotionally, mentally and physically. I came close to falling apart and giving up a couple of times. The most positive event that helped save me was the arrival of our Mini Nugget who is now 18 months old. We were trying to have a second child for almost 4 years but her timing was perfect. She came when I needed her most. She is one of my angels. My first born Little Nugget is another; she kept me from falling apart completely and was putting positive energy back into my life daily. They have shown me true love and the incredible rewards of motherhood. They have given me more than I ever expected from being a mom (gray hair & stress lines aside!). I love you both beyond words.
I have to give credit to those around me who were there for support, love, strength and laughter! You never let me feel alone, you always came running to lift my spirits what ever it took. You gave me comfort, a shoulder to cry on and words of wisdom to help me get through it all. You also dragged me kicking and screaming out of my funk and never let me wallow. I love you and thank you with all my heart for your love and support. I know that I will always be able to face whatever comes my way because I have the love and support of my angels.
If anyone tells you angels don't exist just look around you and think about your life and the people in it, you'll see they're everywhere!
I was born in Princelet Street, Spitalfields, in 1928. My mum was actually being treated for indigestion while she was, in fact, pregnant with me. I have nothing but good to say for my mother, she was a wonderful, completely honest, hard-working woman, as most mothers in our circle were at that time. “Good working class” was a positive thing, unlike today when it has negative connotations.
I was 21 when I had my first daughter. In those days, it wasn’t so public. You tried to hide it. I remember my mother-in-law saying, I was six months pregnant and I didn’t show. People were proud of hiding it; nowadays the minute they’re pregnant they’re wearing loose things.
Like everything related to the human condition, there are pluses and minuses to that. There are many good things related to the feminist revolution, of which I like to think I was a pioneer, but there were also many bad things.
I was a laid back mum, I remember once being in a discussion group of young mums. They were saying how terrible it was in the summer holidays, and they didn’t know what to do with the children. I suggested giving them a bucket of water and telling them to go into the garden and make a mess? Of course, nobody liked me after that.
One child’s mother came to collect him from our house, and found him going down our stairs on a tea tray, as if he were on a ski slope. She said, “You can’t do that! What will Renee say?” He replied: “Aunty Renee taught me how to do it!”
I don’t think there are good mothers or bad mothers. There are plenty of good mothers who are not loved by their children, and plenty of wicked mothers who are. I object very much to these self-help books that tell you how to bring up a child; you could do it with one child and it will work fine, but not with another child. Every mother is different, too. How you feel one year is not necessarily how you’ll feel the next year.
In the end, we have to die, in order to be spared the sight of our own children getting old. Now I see my own children looking at me growing old. Sadly, grief is the price we pay for love; if we didn’t love so much we wouldn’t grieve so much. But it’s worth it; it’s totally worth it.
Renee's story is featured at London's Museum of Motherhood, due to launch at the V & A Museum of Childhood on Thursday 21st June, along with a book. All revenue from ticket and book sales will go to fund Proshanti, a charity supporting maternal healthcare work in Bangladesh. You can buy tickets here for the launch and follow them on facebook and twitter.
You can also win a pair of tickets to the launch by joining our next mums' Make Date. Join us on twitter on 20 June 8.30pm – 9.30pm BST (other timezones here) using the hashtag #somum for a chat and a doodle: Museum of Mum. To see what a Twidoodle's all about, check out our first ever attempt last month... Hope to see you there!
In September, I return to education. An access course at college to enable me to do Childhood and Youth studies at Uni. It’s exciting, and I can’t wait. But it’s also a little sad, because it officially marks the end of my 12 year reign as a stay at home mum. The last 12 years have been the best of my life. Being at home has enabled me to have a bond with my 3 children that just can’t be matched. College and embarking on a career will bring achievements, but none as big as my achievements, rewards, and sense of self-worth I obtained as a SAHM.
When I embarked on my journey, with my tiny still breastfed 6 month old in arms, my peers who were to return to work sneered a fair bit at my craziness. I was told I would become depressed, I was told that I would become bored, I was told I would have no sense of self-worth, I was told my child would grow up without a good work ethic, I was told it would be a massive financial struggle, I was told my partner would have an affair.... But what I found was whilst some of the above was indeed true, the pros sure outweighed whatever cons life threw at me.
Being at home is a struggle, it can be frustrating, boring, thankless, and out an out lonely at times. People refuse to have respect for you; society will view you as worthless, walked upon, and entirely unexciting. When you have to fill in forms often you will be asked to write down your status as unemployed, because mother is not a recognised occupation.
It’s these occasions where your chosen path can actually start to feel a tiny bit degrading. You will have none of your own money, your clothes will often become practical rather than fashionable, you will have no "me time", sometimes you will go days without a decent adult conversation whilst dingle dangle scarecrow plays in your head on a loop, and the government will constantly try to convince you to "get back to work". Friends will have after work drinks before picking up from the child care; you will collapse on the sofa at 9.30pm after a 5am start with time for a glass of wine if you’re lucky. And you will, at least once a day, question your own sanity.
But, who needs sanity? I will choose over and above it every time sitting on the sofa in the afternoon, reading "we're going on a bear hunt" for the 100th time, to a tiny child who strokes your hair and values you for the person you are. Who needs after work drinks when you can have morning coffee with a group of amazing women you would never have discovered without the beautiful being that now depends on you? Who needs to get back to work when you are now teacher, nurse, public relations, officer, cook, cleaner, motivational speaker, accountant, personal shopper, and 100s of other things working 7 days a week? Who needs an adult conversation? They only ever talk about themselves, I choose every time to talk about interesting things like why is the sky blue? (I know, do you?) with a being that’s not so self-obsessed. "Me time" was possibly overrated, never before did I realise how much I enjoy "our time".
Ok, so I might not be the height of fashion, but I do at least have my own Identity. Dressing how you like has a real upside. Not having money makes you start to value the wealth of things you do have much more. Everyone who experiences the love of their own children is rich beyond measure. I can’t count the amount of times I have felt superior when crossing out unemployed and writing SAHM in its place to make a point. And when someone frowns at me and says "oh, you’re just a Mum", I smile to myself and pity them. They have come to this conclusion because they have not realised how rewarding it is to see an individual soul flourish under their own care and commitment, they possibly may never have heard the words "I love you mum", after soothing tears, sharing achievements, reading a story, painting a picture, building a Lego house, running a race, singing a song, writing a name, having a play date, going fishing, going swimming, walking in the woods, having a picnic, building a den, watching a film, solving a problem, helping with homework, cooking a meal, mending a teddy bear, and at 2am, when all is quiet, and your chasing away a nightmare. But I have, and I’m glad, and I would not have had my life any other way.
I have been a SAHM, as was my own amazing mother, and it’s all been memorable. As I move on with my life, I don’t know what the next chapter will hold, but I know that I have 12 years’ worth of experience that stands me ready for anything.
I know a mother who is amazing
I know a mother who doesn't stop
I Know a mother who is busy
I know a mother who is worried
I know a mother who is tired
I know a mother who is a wife
I know a mother who is single
I know a mother who is struggling
I know a mother who is studying
I know a mother who is making ends meet
I know a mother who is spending time with her kids
I know a mother who wants to spend more time with her kids
I know a mother who runs her own business
I know a mother who is at the top of her career
I know a mother who is lonely
I know a mother who wants to lose weight
I know a mother who wants the best for her kids
I know a mother who burnt the dinner
I know a mother who wonders is this it?
I know a mother who needs a cuddle
I know a mother who blogs
I know a mother who likes sex
I know a mother who has no interest in sex
I know a mother who wants some me time
I know a mother who wants repect
I know a mother who wants their children to behave
I know a mother who loves unconditionally
I know a mother who has to be there for their child 24/7
I know a mother who likes to gossip
I know a mother who needs a hand
I know a mother who is growing older
I know a mother.
During a late night reading endless tips online about how to deal with tantruming children, i found some simple advice, tried it the next day & was astonished at it's magic. It worked, immediately. I just had to verbalise to my son how he was feeling, & tell him that i understood. I said to him through his tears and his yelling, "I know, i hear ya, you're feeling frustrated with mummy because you wanted to ... . I understand, it's frustating for you." He instantly became managable, ok still a bit teary but not...feral anymore! I guess we all just want to be understood! Even at the age of 2.