Lessons learned in motherhood

IMG_0003So it’s been four months since our little girl was born, and it’s been a very intense time – such a steep learning curve but so rewarding. I feel like a totally different person to the one I was a year ago!

So inspired by learnermama.com here are ten lessons I’ve learned in motherhood:

1. I can survive on much less sleep than I thought. Okay so I’m not my brightest or nicest, but I’m awake and functional.

2. Breastfed baby poo can be bright orange. Like Tango or Sunny Delight, but the consistency of double cream, with seedy-looking bits in it. Delicious.

3. Breastfeeding can be enormously difficult & painful to begin with. But it gets better before you know it, and it’s so worth it. Support from those around you is invaluable – I couldn’t have got through it without my wonderful partner.

4. You will have lots of opinions & plans on how babies should be raised, then when you’ve got one, half of that will go out the window in favour of something easier. 

5. Babies are hilarious. From the sleep farting to the squeaky noises & cute concerned faces, she cracks me up every day.

6. White noise apps are ace. Both for helping baby to sleep & drowning out the partner’s snoring when you’ve just got baby to sleep at 4am.

7. Slings are ace. I would never get anything done around the house if I didn’t carry my little one with me, as she’s not really into napping anywhere other than on me or on the move.

8. Babies change & learn new skills incredibly fast. I guess I knew this already in theory, but seeing it in practice is astounding. One month ago her head bobbled around, today she can hold it straight & grab toys & bring them to her mouth. Which leads me onto…

9. Babies can drool an incredible amount, and want to put everything in their mouth. It’s kind of cute, although not when she’s trying to eat my flip flops and has soaked through her dribble bib & given herself a neck rash.

10. The love I feel for my little girl is bigger than anything I could ever have imagined. She’s my princess, my star, my wonderful little puke-a-saurus, and I can’t believe how empty my life was before her (sorry cats!).



USA has a Birthmothers day? As an adoptee I’m not convinced


I came across this article & was very surprised to learn of birthmothers day in the USA, being the day before mothers day.

I was adopted. It was arranged before my birth. In fact the woman who gave me up for adoption gave up two other children before me, too. We all have the same biological father but they had an on-off relationship. I believe he didn’t even know I existed until a while after I was born.

What she did is courageous, and I will forever be in her debt; it can’t have been easy and I know her family were not supportive. I think in middle age she’s only recently been coming to terms with what happened now, especially as she did not go on to have any children of her own.

I’ve only met her once, so I cannot claim to know her, but she seems a lovely, intelligent, sensitive & thoughtful woman whose life can’t have been how she planned it.

She’s sent myself & my baby presents & they’ve all been perfect: the first thing she ever sent me was an Imelda May album & a knitted rose broach; how someone who’d never met me could chose 2 presents so perfect is testament to her thoughtfulness and I guess how similar I must be to her.

I find the idea of a Birthmothers day patronising. I think if I were in that situation I would not see it as a thing to be celebrated – I seriously doubt giving up a child gives anyone any joy. I understand that the point is to vindicate birthmothers in a way similar to how standard mothers are, but they’re not the same. It’s something to deal with, and move on, and hopefully have a relationship with your adopted child in its own right. Not as a mother, but as something else, it’s difficult to verbalise.
I don’t know what my biological mother would think of this, if she knows about it. And I’m not going to ask. However the article did make me think of her, and send her an email with photos of baby so I guess something good came out of it.

Playlist for the new parent

I always have the radio on & switch it between Classic Fm & BBC 6 Music. The other day I heard the dance classic, ‘Insomnia’ by Faithless and the main spoken bit, “I can’t get no sleep” made me think – what other songs have titles or subject matter applicable to the highs and lows of being a new parent?!

Are there any songs you know that somehow relate to the mess, the disorganisation, the excitement, the love, the surprises, the giant learning curve that is bringing a new little person into the world?

Who am I?

That’s a good question, because I’m undoubtedly a different person than I was two weeks ago.In 26th January 2014, our gorgeous daughter was born. Both my partner and I were so excited. I couldn’t wait to meet her! She was 10 days overdue, the labour was about 36 hours and as I became stuck (or ‘failed to progress’ – nice) I first had my waters broken, then when that didn’t work, I had an oxytocin drip. Everything happened very fast after that, her head lodged itself in my birth canal & my pushing wasn’t shifting her so she was pulled out with a ventouse (suction).I had been practising hypnobirth techniques such allowed me to remain calm, and my partner had come too so he was supporting me. He was absolutely amazing, especially considering how difficult it was for him to see me in so much pain.

He’s a wonderful, thoughtful, generous man. He suggested I start this blog as a form of catharsis/therapy. I poo-poo’d it to begin with, but like most of his ideas, it’s a good idea. I was feeling really well prepared for the birth; I’d read so much – books and online, asked questions of midwives and friends with babies. And I felt like I managed the birth itself really well. Or maybe I just believed what everyone else told me. Perhaps what I’m feeling now is in part a delayed reaction to a birth that really wasn’t what I was hoping for. I knew logically that I couldn’t control how it would go, but I guess I hoped my determined positive thinking would do the trick.I know from past experiences that I’m not very in contact with my emotions – I can’t always tell what I’m feeling before I get a physical symptom (like nausea or retching to indicate anxiety) or I just act or say something insensitive or bitchy, and it takes some perspective to realise I wasn’t thinking straight. It wouldn’t surprise me if I’m still recovering but not consciously.

I was initially anxious about breastfeeding. There is a lot of pressure to do it, everyone

I know did it (although I was bottle-fed because I was adopted) and you get the impression it will be easy. The midwives say, ‘it shouldn’t hurt or you’re doing it wrong’. And I had inverted or flat nipples (not sure which as definitions seem to vary) – before I was pregnant,  they’d very rarely come out on their own, but could be sucked out during sex, although they wouldn’t stay out for longer than 20 seconds or so. On a midwife’s suggestion, during pregnancy I encouraged them out every day, and they obliged. They were very sensitive but then I started to hope I could breastfeed sucessfully. They looked a bit weird – I’m prone to skin tabs & during pregnancy these went wild due to hormones – and when fully out my nipple tips seemed to be covered in them. But I didn’t worry

.On my first night in hospital a midwife tried to help me to get our baby to latch on. I can’t remember exactly what happened but I do remember a very sharp shooting pain in my nipple like someone trying to cut the end off with a pair of scissors. I yelped and started to freak out. It was so painful, and I really wasn’t expecting it. We persevered and I think we did get her latched on but to be honest I can’t remember. I must have done. I remember baby was sick twice & it had brown stuff in it – I was told this was blood & perfectly normal, but that freaked me out a bit – made me think of Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom, and how drinking the blood turns the people into voodoo zombies.I am a terrible kind of perfectionist – if I don’t get something perfect, pretty much first time, I throw a tantrum, write it off as something I can’t do, and don’t try again. And I don’t always like asking for help – I’m hard on myself, I expect the best immediately, and berate myself if I fall short. You may be able to see where this is going.I had difficulty in hospital getting a good latch, but I wanted to get it on my own so my partner had to convince me to ask for help. I got lots of help but was still suffering painful nipples that were coming out mangled. I was told my latch looked good and no one knew why it was painful. I felt very alone.