The Guilty Mammy Blog

Blagging it badly

Pregnancy in the 1st Trimester, A Guide

You forget so quickly what being pregnant is like especially early pregnancy before you can tell anyone. Well let me remind you..

  • It’s boring.
  • Almost immediately upon taking a positive pregnancy test your body changes and you obtain what can only be described as a thickness around your midsection.
  • You can’t allow yourself to get too excited because its early days and you can’t tell anyone.
  • You feel fat – this feeling never goes away.
  • You think you look pregnant much sooner than anyone else thinks you look pregnant, this is down to wishful thinking. You just look fat.
  • You are perpetually bloated.
  • You have wind.
  • Your sense of smell is akin to that of a bloodhound.
  • Very quickly you realise that you are continually and unrelentingly hungry unless you’re suffering from nausea.
  • You’re suffering from nausea.
  • You’re going to the toilet.
  • You’re lying in bed wondering if you can get back to sleep without getting up and going to the toilet.
  • You’re pondering how you’re going to manage sleeping on your left hand side when that involves facing your husband all night and deciding when it will be appropriate to ask him to sleep in the spare room until after the baby is born.
  • You are so tired you are at risk of falling asleep anytime, anywhere. At work included.
  • If, like me, you swore you wouldn’t eat everything this time you soon realise that you have no will power.
  • Your gums bleed, probably because you are overusing them. They are constantly on the go with all that extra food you are stuffing into you.
  • There is a long stage where your normal clothes are too small for you but your maternity clothes are too big.
  • Your knickers no longer fit.
  • You only feel comfortable in men’s clothes.. tracksuit bottoms, pyjama bottoms, t-shirts. Hoody.
  • You get spots.
  • You don’t know if you’re allowed to lie on your front. You know you definitely can’t lie on your back.
  • You can go all day without going to the toilet.
  • You need to go to the toilet every 25 minutes during the night.
  • Sometimes you go to the toilet, get back into bed and immediately need to go to the toilet again.
  • Sometimes you need to go to the toilet and nothing comes out.
  • Sometimes you sneeze and wee comes out.
  • You’re going to the toilet.

Afterbirth – 5 things no one told me about having a baby

Whenever I speak to someone who is expecting they ask about the birth and as I have said before it’s all a bit of a blur but even if it wasn’t I still don’t think it’s all that relevant. I think everyone’s birth story will be different and in fact it’s only a very small part of motherhood.
For me the bit I want people to know about is the days and weeks after you get home from hospital. I went to antenatal classes, I never missed an appointment with my midwife and I read two pregnancy books in the 40 or so weeks leading up to the birth of my daughter. But I don’t remember anyone telling me how hard the first 6 weeks are. They told me there would be bleeding and I might be uncomfortable but I couldn’t have anticipated the pain for about 6 weeks after the birth.

Issue #1 – stitches

I had an episiotomy during my delivery after pushing for an hour. Once I was sewn up I asked how many stitches but was told they don’t count them anymore – no one told me any more about it. When I got home I could hardly sit down with the pain and as the days passed it got worse and worse. I couldn’t walk far because of the pain. The stitches pulled and when I went to the toilet I screamed from the pain. Eventually I got a mirror and had a look and what I saw could only be described as a gaping wound. I went back to the hospital and told them what the problem was. My stitches had partly come out and there was indeed an open wound down there. Which I peed into several times a day – you piss a lot in the days after giving birth… did you know that??

Top tip – Pouring water with tea tree oil in it over my bits when I had a wee made things slightly easier.

Issue #2 – bleeding

This bit I did know about – the bleeding – you can expect to bleed for something between a week and six weeks after giving birth. A super period if you will. Mine was 6 weeks. 6 weeks of non stop period. But you can’t wear a tampon so you’ve got a pad that is visible from outerspace between your legs. Eventually you can downgrade to a normal pad. But after probably a week in my case my vaginal was so itchy from wearing pads that I probably ripped out my own stitches just to relieve the itching. Long after I have forgotten the pain of the contractions I will remember how itchy my fanny was in those weeks.

Top tip – no. Can’t help here.

Issue #3 – nipples

My baby had no latching issues and wasn’t tongue tied but the pain of starting breast feeding was real. For the 2 or 3 days before your milk comes in it feels like baby is permanently sucking and nothing is coming out. It doesn’t take long for your nips to get cracked and bleed. Eventually the milk comes in and you think you’re on the pigs back. But no. Your new enemy is the pain at letdown. Yes, when milk is released it causes actual physical pain. This too passes. Not before you have been sitting in bed at 3am gritting your teeth through the pain of a feed. You know it’s bad when your eyes well up with the anticipation of the pain of a feed.

Top tip – lansinoh nipple cream

Issue #4 – tiredness

My baby wouldn’t sleep anywhere but in my arms for several weeks. People kept telling me this was a bad thing so I kept trying to put her down which made her cry and made me sad and anxious and stressed. So I held her and sat with her and let her sleep. But I couldn’t let myself fall asleep because that was apparently the most dangerous thing in the world you could do with a new born. Particularly if you did it on the sofa. My husband kept reading on the internet that co-sleeping was a dangerous game and should be avoided at all costs. Eventually I compromised by propping myself up in bed while she slept on me and I dozed for a few hours at a time during the night. Occasionally I fell asleep on the sofa and vowed never to tell my husband what had happened.

Top tip – If I could go back in time I’d give myself a massive break here. I’d sleep and sleep and sleep. I’d sleep on the sofa, on the floor, in bed wherever and whenever and I’d never give it a second though.

Issue #5 – the 4th trimester

Babies don’t want to be on their own, ever, when they are new born. Don’t fight it.
Top tip – If you want to get anything done buy a sling. End of.

Here we go again..

I’m back after an extended blog holiday. Things have been relentless busy and I’ve been pretty knackered. Probably due to the fact that I am 16 weeks pregnant with baby number two!

Who knew time would go so quickly second time around?! I cannot explain how exhausted I felt for the first trimester this time around. It’s been really hard work. First time around I usually fell asleep on the couch when I got in from work. I slept in at the weekends and generally had a lot of time for lounging and snoozing. Not so this time! It’s all go with a toddler AND working. Weekends of course are busy and an early night is frequently planned but rarely carried out. But I am now feeling so much better; the difference in the second trimester is tangible.

I didn’t particularly enjoy being pregnant the first time around. I felt uncomfortable and large and all that. But your body has a funny way of making you forget all that and before you know it you’re thinking about baby number two and how lovely it would be to be pregnant again. And in fact this time around I am enjoying it much more, so far anyway. It’s true that you start to show a lot quicker this time. Although my belly is only 50% baby, the other half is gluttony. So much for my promises not to eat everything around me second time around. It’s not all consuming this time around either – no asking in restaurants if the mayonnaise is home made, no boiling eggs to bullet consistency, no constant googling of pregnancy related material.

I have felt an almost permanent sense of guilt though. The toddler has no idea what is coming and our bond is so close that I feel like I am betraying her somehow. To her she is the centre of our universe and in reality she is probably right. How can she cope with another baby to contend with? How can I explain it to her? And how can I love another baby as much as I love her? I now feel sorry for both of them; there is no way the newbie is going to receive half the service the toddler has gotten. And standards the toddler has become accustomed to will surely drop. I have to remind myself that in time she’ll be glad she has a sibling, I can’t imagine my life without my brothers. Although looking around me I can see it could take quite a long time for her to appreciate the new addition.

There are so many positives to the second baby too though; I don’t have that sense of anxiety that everything is about to change this time around. I don’t worry about whether I am making the right decision. I don’t panic about the loss of my social life, I lost that ages ago. I don’t’ worry about all the stuff we need. I don’t have any illusions about getting really fit during my maternity leave.

I now also know that everything is temporary, every stage lasts a matter of weeks, although it may feel like months at the time. I know that they will sleep eventually, as will I. I know they will eat vegetables eventually, although they may have to be invisible to the naked eye. I know that one day they’ll crawl, shortly after they’ll walk and talk and all too soon they’ll be walking away from me and making their own way. And I know that you have to relish every moment you can, even the bad ones.

I’ve learned that there are so many people in the world who would give up everything for one more cuddle with their child. There are people in the world who have waited their whole life to hold a baby that never came. And now when my baby wakes in the middle of the night and calls for me I sit and I hold her for as long as it takes, I’ve learned that being able to do that is a privilege. And I know that when the newbie arrives I’ll do the same; and I’ll find a way to hold them both.

Working 9(ish) to ZZZZzzzzzz

Going back to work was not something I relished after my year ‘off’. There were elements of it that I looked forward to but on the whole I would have been happy if someone said I could just stay with the baby.

On the plus side life seemed chaotic when I was off and I looked forward to having a bit more structure to my life. I looked forward to being back in central London. I looked forward to seeing adults again who weren’t other mothers. I looked forward to a cheeky glass of wine at lunchtime and actually eating lunch a) at lunchtime and b) without having to simultaneously feed someone else and, if I am honest, c) without having to share my food.

I work three days a week at the moment. My husband works from home on the days I am at work so he does nursery drop off and pick up. We are incredibly lucky to be able to do this.

Despite only working 3 days a week I am late every morning. A bit to do with the baby but a lot to do with me being so disorganised and so reluctant to remove myself from the happy embrace of my duvet each morning. I snooze and snooze and snooze until the last possible moment.. then I snooze again, run around like a lunatic and out the door. Even if the baby wakes up early I still manage to be late. And before you ask, no, I don’t go to bed early enough. I am a fool, a fool I tell you!

I thought that when you grow up you get up and make breakfast and sit around for a bit before going to work? Is this a fallacy? The only difference to my morning routine is that I wake up (or baby wakes me up) I feed baby and then reconvene the pre-baby chaotic routine of getting myself out of the house as quickly as possible. When do we start eating pancakes for breakfast?

The reality of being back to work is that I spend 3 days a week at my desk wondering what the baby is up to, if she has eaten, if she has slept, if she has been upset and needed me. I rush out of the office at the earliest opportunity and race home to get about 45 minutes with her before she goes to sleep. I feel guilty that I am not with her and I feel guilty that I am not giving my all to my work on the 3 days I am in the office.

You’d imagine on my days off I’d be in a state of total bliss then? Well no, on the 2 days I am home its bloody hard work having the baby on my own all day. It’s still an early morning but now I have to find things for us both to do all day on top of breakfast, lunch, nap, dinner, bath and bed, It’s not easy. I have no idea how single parents manage it, I in in awe. Don’t get me wrong it’s better than work but it’s just not as good as the weekends when the Daddy is home to help.

She mostly sleeps through the night now but quite often she doesn’t. Last night, for no apparently reason, she woke up at 2am and didn’t go back to sleep until near 5. I had to get up and go to work regardless. I haven’t brushed my hair today. I often have a shower before going to bed to save time in the morning so my hair always looks like I’ve just ridden a motorbike with no helmet on. The ponytail is my hair ‘style’.

You have no idea how sleep deprivation is affecting you until you’re not sleep deprived. For 14 months she has never been a great sleeper, it’s getting better but like last night there is quite often a night of pure hell. And for a lot of those 14 months my husband and I have argued, mostly in the middle of the night but frequently all day as well. We have had a hard year as a couple. At times I felt like the only thing we had in common was the baby. And feeling such love for her made me question if I loved him at all at times. Then Christmas came and we had 2 weeks of time off. Together. I thought it might be the end of us. But she mostly slept well and we allowed each other to sleep in, we fell asleep while she napped, I allowed him to nod off on the couch at the end of the day. And suddenly I was looking at him in a different light. I felt all the love that I couldn’t seem to locate for all those months. I wanted a cuddle, I wanted a bit more than a cuddle… All the good stuff that I thought was left, lost, gone for good was trickling back. It was like we came out of a shit cloud and into the light.

Then she was up all night last night and we are firmly back in the shit cloud. But at least I know where the exit is..

Oh Christmas Tree!

The baby had no idea why we suddenly had a large tree in the house but was thrilled to discover a) the balls were detachable and b) the more she fucked with the balls the more attention she got from Mammy and Daddy. What a fun game it was for her to take them off and for us to put them back on. For over two weeks she never tired of it. I bloody love Christmas and the tree would be a fairly important part of getting the Christmas buzz going so initially it was beyond irritating to see her running around the house smashing baubles into the new wooden floor but as the days passed I learned not to care. My husband on the other hand never quite learned how to let it go and was particularly frustrated when the cat joined in and decided she also wanted to fuck with the balls.

The tree was so popular that when we decided to take it down on the 3rd January the baby cried, well, like a baby, in protest at its removal from the house. Prizing the last bauble from her tiny hands was practically child abuse.

Otherwise I think we had the best Christmas yet. We had two weeks off work, the building works finished and the baby had new toys which meant the cabin fever was kept to a minimum. I used to think that the best thing about Christmas as a grown up was all the boozing. And of course that is still true. But now you can do it at home and you don’t have to talk to anyone that you don’t like and having a baby means you have a great excuse for saying no to everything that you don’t want to do – like leaving the house or getting dressed.

Sadly this year also coincided with me dropping to one breastfeed per day – first thing in the morning – which on the one hand meant I could get away with more drinking but on the other hand meant that I was eating, drinking and getting fatter by the hour. I actually got very fat. So now not only is it miserable January but I am also overweight again.. all that hard work losing the baby fat to be ruined by a seemingly endless supply of Ferrero Rochers. Who knew that as an adult I would still need to be supervised with a tub of Celebrations? Curse those tiny mars bars.

Word of advice – give up breastfeeding and immediately go on a diet. Do not give up and increase calorie intake to that of a team of sumo wrestlers.

I may actually have to THINK about doing some exercise now.. oh dear.

5 things I would do differently..

1) Putting my baby in clothes.. (I wouldn’t)

For some reason and probably in line with what I saw around me at the time I thought that after 1 month my baby should wear ‘proper clothes’ especially when leaving the house. Looking back at photos of her at about 6 weeks old in a pair of jeans and a top and I realise how ridiculous it was.

Doing in again baby would be in a baby grow until 3 months minimum.. maybe 6 months.

They should be as comfortable during the day as they are at night. If they need an extra layer then a cardigan or a jumper is the way to go.

2) Buy a moses basket (I wouldn’t)

She hated it. I hated it by the end. The sleepyhead was the best purchase we made in this regard. Doing it again I’d probably buy a co-sleeper.

3) Sleep on the couch (I would)

Co-sleeping frightens the bejesus out of all new parents. I think we should give ourselves a break here. Practically everyone I know did it at one point or another. Sometimes it’s the only way to get any sleep. Some did it for a few nights, some for a few weeks.. others are probably still doing it but not telling anyone.

If you’ve trawled the internet like I have trying to find out how to do this safely you’ll have realised that no one is willing to help you here. Everything says not to do it. In particular the most dangerous thing you can do with your baby is fall asleep on the couch. I can’t tell you how many times my husband told me not to fall asleep with the baby on the couch. I did it a couple of times.. maybe even a few times.. she slept on my chest in the deepest most blissful sleep possible. I don’t have loads of cushions on my couch and the there is no bit she could get stuck down the back of. I still felt terrible every time it happened. But I was so tired!!

Doing it again I would sit down, put my feet up, baby up, tv on and SLEEP, BLISSFUL SLEEP FOR MANY HOURS.

4) Stay in maternity clothes (I would)

Don’t get my wrong I was more than keen to get my old body back, or as close to it as was possible. But maternity clothes are lovely.. they are stretchy and ACCOMMODATING and there are no buttons to feel bad about not being able to close. I miss my maternity jeans. Yes, pulling them up incessantly was a pain when I was huge but post baby they were perfect. The big band actually made me look smaller (at least I thought it did). No muffin top. Lovely.

Obviously I don’t recommend them indefinitely.. but I’d definitely enjoy them for a bit longer if I was doing it all again.

5) Invest in decent underwear (I would)

I read somewhere that if you are planning on breastfeeding you should spend as much on a nursing bra as you would on a meal out. I thought that was nonsense. I didn’t, I wish I had. I mean the first few weeks when your breasts produce milk as and when they feel like it and your bra smells like sour milk most of the time or is stained from nipple cream etc. then don’t be putting on your finest but once that all calms down a good bra is a great investment. No one should have to get excited when they finally get to put on an underwired bra again. Do your self a favour and sort out the ladies.

Knickers – go big and go comfy is usually my advise. Never wear a thong when you have a newborn. You never know how long you are going to be sitting for in any one day. And your bum may not appreciate the cheese wire in your crack like it once did.

Day Care Disaster

We went to see three nurseries when baby was 4 months old. Living in London you hear all the time that places are limited so we felt we had to get out there early to get into the queue. Plus I used to make myself cry at the thought of her going to nursery. I got so upset thinking about another woman comforting her when I wasn’t there that I could actually get myself into a state.

The one we picked was the first one we saw; it had a fantastic reputation and was really small. There are only 4 babies in the baby room. It felt like an easier step away from me than a bigger nursery where she would be in with the toddlers in a large environment. Once we had picked it and I could see where she was going I immediately felt better about leaving her. Those horrible nagging fears were very much put to the back of my mind once she was booked in.

And then the time comes to get her in there, she was 11 ½ months old. What an enormous thing it must be for a baby. I worried that she had really only had contact with me and her Dad so in order to open up her world a bit I took her to Ireland to my family for a couple of weeks and then to Spain for a couple of weeks, again with family, so she could get used to being around other people and more importantly to get used to me not being there all the time. I know there is no way to prepare babies for nursery but this felt like the only thing I could do to help her.

Settling in day 1 – two hours and I stay with her. Easy. She loved it. A room full of toys and me and another adult playing with her.

Settling in day 2 – two hours on her own. She is fine, two hours of playing flies by and a pick her up and she is happy to see me and I feel happy that she was ok.

Settling in day 3 – 10am to 2pm on her own. Day went well. She ate and slept and seemed to have a good time.

She does 3 days a week at nursery. I am lucky I am back to work 3 days only. But after what felt like a good start she picks up a virus and starts going in to nursery exhausted from a few nights of bad sleep and I novelty of all the toys starts to wear off. There are tears at drop off every morning and even on pick up. It is heart wrenching. Being back at work has its up side, I am enjoying so many parts of it but the guilt and sadness at leaving her is hard to deal with at times. And then it steps up a gear..

Her birthday and she is sent home sick. Again. Birthday party postponed and I take her home. Luckily that was her last day that week. The party is reorganised for the following Monday. The deal is I am to show up at 3pm for tea time and bring cake. I can’t deny I was really excited about it.
I get there bang on time and she is already sitting in the toddler room. The tables have been changed so it’s one long table and she is sitting at the top of it looking down the line at the other babies. I sit in a miniature chair next to her. I am there a fair amount of time before she turns around to see me. My heart breaks when she turns around. Her eyes are full of tears, she has been sitting there silently crying and no one was comforting her, no one seemed to notice. My heart aches. I don’t want to make a huge deal of it so I just start chatting with her and help her eat her crumpet. She keeps putting her arms out to me to pick her up. Eventually I do and she sits on my knee. I can see she is trying to work out what I am doing there and why we are not leaving.

The party starts, it’s a bit of a damp squib I have to say, bit of music and she wears a hat and gets to see her cake. She doesn’t get to eat it but I don’t think she understands the joy of cake just yet.

At some point early on in the party she starts cuddling in under my chin and acting all shy. I say aloud that she isn’t normally shy and ask her what’s wrong. Her key person says that she is the shyest kid in the nursery. She goes on to tell me that she doesn’t take part in any of the activities. She sits back and watches on her own. She would sit quietly with the cuddling toys all day if she was allowed to. They have to really push her to play and she never joins in the group activities.

It was like hearing someone describing another baby. None of what she said sounded like my kid. My kid is bubbly, laughs all the time and has a wicked sense of humour. She laughs when other people fall over. Her key person then says she has not seen anything of the baby that she was the day I stayed with her during settling in. Don’t forget all of this is happening during her birthday party while I am sitting in a miniature chair at a miniature table with several miniature people around me.
I was gutted. I picked her up and got her out of there. I bumped into my mum friend on the way home and burst into tears. I couldn’t relate what she had told me with the baby I knew.

In the weeks after that going to work was harder because I felt so bad about how she was at nursery. I longed to go home and get her out of there.

The worst thing was I started to notice that when I brought her to play groups and baby classes she WAS shy. She wouldn’t stray too far from me and she was definitely a lot more introverted that the other kids.
I couldn’t help but think that leaving her in nursery had damaged her, made her weary and shy. I didn’t remember her being like this before nursery and as the weeks went on I saw more of the baby that nursery saw than I did of the girl I thought she was.

I can’t tell you if she was always shy or if nursery changed her somehow. In my heart I feel sad because I do think it has made her worry about the world. She now knows that she could be left and that has made her, well, sad.

It’s been 10 weeks now and she still cries on drop off every morning. She is still reluctant to join in all the activities. She walks well at home but only takes a couple of steps there. She chats and babbles incessantly at home but never makes a sound there. At 13 ½ months she seems self conscious and lacking in confidence. Could that even be possible at that age?

I’m sorry to say I don’t have any answers on how to fix this for her. I have to work and we can’t afford to hire a nanny to look after her. Nursery tells us that she is getting better. And we have to trust and believe them.

But the guilt I feel every day is palpable.

First steps.. the easiest?

I went back to work after a year off. It was such an amazing year. Lot’s of ups, heaps of downs, the biggest change to me as a person that will ever happen.

But my baby has been finding it so hard to adjust to her new life in nursery. More on that later.

On my first day back at work, when I got home, she took 3 big wobbly clumsy steps across the room into my arms. And I thought that I would never let her go. She forced me to. She doesn’t like it when I squeeze her. I can’t figure out why.

So at 11 ½ months she is walking – right? Wrong. She decides that was a once off and as Mammy abandoned her the following day, again, she wasn’t playing ball. It was about a month before she decided that her second steps could be attempted. And 3rd steps and before you know it she is wobbling her way around the house and bouncing off the walls and the floor and anything else that gets in her way.

And it’s cute. The cuteness is at an all time high at the moment.

I went to a toddler puppet/music class a couple of weeks ago and noticed the bigger kids walking well. That’s not cute. They hardly wobble at all.

Building a nightmare..

This is a tale of absolute stupidity. I am telling you so you don’t make the same mistake we have.

We decided that we needed more space in the house and that meant a ground floor extension and a knock through of the utility room and kitchen. It’s been going on now for 13 weeks today. It was supposed to take between 9 and 12 weeks. It’s been the hardest few weeks of my life.

The last week in August they started. We haven’t had a kitchen for 13 long weeks. We have no running water downstairs. We wash up in the bath upstairs. We cook in a microwave and a single gas ring camping stove in the sitting room. Heating came back a couple of weeks ago just as it started to get cold (thankfully) but due to the lack of any back doors the house is always cold, no matter how long the heating is on for.

I can not describe the dirt. It’s so filthy that cleaning it seems pointless because I don’t know where to begin and if I did it would be covered in a layer of dust within minutes.

Baby is 13 months. She is walking. She is allowed to walk upstairs along the hall and in my room and in the living room. Sometimes when the dust is at its worst she has her lunch in my bedroom.

The works are taking place under her room so she has been in with us for 13 weeks. I am not sure how we will get her back in her own room. I worry about this.

I worry that the dust is going to give her asthma.

I worry that using the microwave for her food with give her a nutrient deficiency.

I worry that they’ll never finish.

I worry that it’s costing so much my baby will be an only child as a result.

If you only take one piece of advice from this blog – let it be this – don’t undertake a massive building project in your house when you have a toddler. Or do only if you can move out.

You know when would have been perfect for this? When I was pregnant because we could have eaten out every night and we didn’t have a baby!
Having a baby and having a building site in the same place is a stupid idea. Don’t even think about it. Move house.

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