Nobody told me…

That you will NEVER SLEEP AGAIN. That your boobs will be forever pointing down. Down Boobs will be their new name. That you will never wee alone unless you have planned it, like some covert operation. That even though your yoga teacher or some other birth ‘guru’ told you that your ‘baby is the perfect size for your body,’ your vagina will still split all the way to your arse hole and look more like a cross stitch project, than your previous well groomed lady garden. That your nipples will be so red raw, that you will develop an irrational resentment towards your husband for not being able to lactate. That you will never drink a truly hot beverage again. That your hair will fall out (nightmare). That your period will come back (bigger nightmare). That the chub rub between your thighs will continue to be the ruiner of all Summer dresses and hot days for months (years) after you have given birth. That cycling shorts will save you. That you will now have to bath with 46 rubber ducks and a plastic boat. That you may never bath again. That your sofa will never be clean. That you will no longer think Mr Tumble is a weirdo and that you would actually quite like him to come and live in your house. That Happy Meals and Fruit Shoots are ok and that you needn’t have been such a judgey dick before you had even had kids. That you will forgive yourself for being a judgey dick. That you will never reach the bottom of the wash bin, NEVER, don’t even try. That you will smell like a milky armpit for at least twelve months and that you will probably be ok with this. That one night they will sleep through, but then you will wake them because you got scared. That you will trade your handbag for a nappy bag or a Bag for Life. That at some point you will get actual human shit on your face and someone else’s sick in your pants. That you will have your favourite shows on CBeebies, and you will be excited when they come on. That you will never be on time again. That you will know every word to their favourite book. That you will cry and scream because you are broken and you cannot get up one more time. That you will sit up all night stroking their head because they’re too sick or too tired or too emotional or just too toddler. That you will wish and dream for a moment alone but when they go you will long for their return. That your heart will be so full it could burst. That you will cry when you find the smallest sock that no longer fits. That your exhaustion, frustration and the absolute chaos can be forgotten with a smile, a word or a cuddle. That you will burst with pride at the smallest change and your heart will swell to see them grow. That you will miss those first few weeks. That you will lose some friends but gain the world. That you will change in ways that terrify you but you will like it. That you will achieve things that you never thought possible.

That it will all be worth it.

It is not all shit

I feel that it is really important to talk about our mental health. When I write I try to make sure that my posts are real and honest, because it is fucking hard. I often think that anything worth having is hard, this is definitely true with raising a family.

I aim to raise awareness of the importance of our mental health. My own mental health is more important to me than anything else in my life. If it is not good my husband suffers, my children suffer, my friends suffer, the dog definitely suffers, but most importantly I suffer. As far as my mind is concerned I need to be at the top of my game. I neglected my mental health for so many years and it destroyed me. It has taken me thirty three years to realise this and after my recent diagnosis of Autism, I feel that everything is slowly falling into place.

For me it is important to talk and reach out and normalise difficulties when it comes to coping with my mental health. If I broke my leg I would not feel ashamed to go to A&E, if I had a chest infection I would not be ashamed to visit my GP and this is how I am learning to be for my mental health too. However, dealing with any form of mental illness and anxiety may make this incredibly difficult for many people, so I talk about how hard things are because I want others to see that it is ok for stuff to be really tough sometimes. It does not mean that it is hard all the time, a lot of the time it is absolutely Bobby Dazzler, but for me it is important to acknowledge that sometimes things are tough and look for healthy ways to deal with this.

I LOVE my life, my family, my home but I want to normalise the tough times as much as the wonderful times. I want my smiling family photos to be followed by stories of sleepless crap, toddler tantrums and days where the only thing that I have consumed has been eight cans of Diet Coke and a Mars Bar.

For me life is about owning those challenges and difficult times and focusing on ways to make it better for next time. Nothing is perfect, but not everything is shit.

Here we are today after 3 coffees, 2 diet cokes, 1 brew and 2 pieces of cake 🤣

It’s hard, right?

Yes it’s hard

when it’s 3am

and you have finally settled the baby to bed

but then the toddler wakes up

and you start over again.

Yes it’s hard

when the baby is crying

but you are chasing the the toddler

because he has taken his clothes off

and you are in the museum.

Yes it’s hard

when the toddler wants toast but

he has to butter it himself

or it’s not quite right

and the baby is still crying.

Yes it’s hard

when your clothes do not fit

and your hair needs a wash

but the baby needs milk

so you just stay inside watch cartoons and eat biscuits.

Yes it is hard

when your heart breaks

because now you are less

because the toddler needs you

as much as baby does too.

Yes it’s hard

when they are forced to grow fast

even though they did not ask

for this tiny new being

to take over their bed, their routine

and their things.

Yes it’s hard

but it will be ok

because together they will grow and learn and play

and the years will pass faster than the long drawn out nights

sat lonely, wondering… am I doing this right?

Finding time to talk

I was talking to a friend last week about how we don’t find time to process difficult or even joyful emotions. How life just seems to sweep you by, things happen one moment and the next you have to just pick yourself up and keep moving. People around you probably think that you are strong and resilient for doing so, but how does this behaviour affect our mental health? Should our experiences and emotions not be confronted head on and processed over time? 

When I was pregnant I felt like I was in a little glowing bubble of joy. I was untouchable, nothing fazed me, I did not feel stressed or pressured. I just felt so happy knowing that I had this tiny human being growing inside of me. All of my anxieties and worries were gone, nothing could bring me down because all that mattered was our future as a family. 

I did not believe for a second that it was all going to be sweetness and light, of course it was going to be hard work. I had seen my sister bring up two children and she is a pro, I knew what was involved. It was that feeling of knowing that my baby was growing inside me, it blew my mind. It was the happiest I had ever been in my entire life.

After Cass was born my emotions were obviously all over the place, like any new parent. We were tired, a bit out of sorts, unsure of what was actually going on but I was still so happy. We had a beautiful baby boy.

When you are pregnant, especially for the first time there is a lot of focus on you as the mother, how you are feeling, how you are coping. Constantly being checked at the doctors, fighting for what kind of birth you want, making decisions. It is a lot to take on, stressful and overwhelming at times. A lot of focus is put on the pregnancy, no one really tells you what is coming. No one really prepares you for what happens after labour, all the focus is on what drugs you want when you are in labour, where you want to give birth and if your baby does not arrive in a specific time scale, what medical procedure will be thrown at you to make sure it does.

When Cass was around three months old I remember feeling very overwhelmed by everything. Due to Will’s work and not having any family close by, I was spending a lot of evenings alone and bedtimes were an absolute killer. Feeding all day and all night and trying to survive on a couple of hours sleep, it was too much. I felt totally isolated. I called the health visitor who came round and just talked, her support was amazing. She reassured me and it gave me the strength I needed to keep going. 

A few months ago I was returning to work, still getting zero sleep, really struggling with night feeds and the rest. I felt like a shell, but I just kept going. One day everything just crashed down around me, I couldn’t cope anymore. I had totally lost myself and shut down. Luckily for me I had some fantastic women around me, the support of my family to help me get back on track and an amazing doctor. 

Talking about what was happening and how I was feeling was not something that came easily, I had to swallow an absolute fuck-tonne of pride and face some mammoth demons. I realised at this moment I had to start taking better care of myself and making positive decisions about how I was going to look after my mental health.

Different people react in different ways to situations and mental health is very unique to each individual. For me, I do not take time, I rush through things and become engrossed in the next project or exciting life event and forget about how I am feeling at that exact moment. I am forever looking to the future and not taking time to enjoy ‘now.’ Sometimes I don’t want to enjoy ‘now,’ I want to forget about it, it is hardwork, crap, upsetting or stressful. 

In the past 14 months I have learned so much about my own mental health and emotions, I am working through, and confronting things that existed before Cass was born, which is a bit shit to be honest. I wish I would have just dealt with them at the time, but this is helping me learn and grow NOW so I do not make the same mistakes in the future. I am learning to deal with things and not bury them. I am taking time, albeit very small amounts of time to talk about how I feel, with friends and my husband. I am taking time to talk about both positive and negative emotions, learning from the good and the bad. I am being honest with myself and stepping out of my comfort zone. 

I cannot emphasise how much talking helps, find someone who will listen, anyone! A friend, family, the samaritans, your doctor no one should ever feel alone. Take strength from small achievements and always remember that you are enough. Fill your cup and take time, even if it’s just a minute to text a friend or hanging out at soft play with some other parents. Everyone has shit but we should never be alone.

In the beginning 

I’m originally from Sheffield, it was a close friend of mine that introduced me to the Wonderful World of Baby Wearing when I was pregnant. Every time we met I noticed she was wearing a new fantastic sling or wrap. Her son was always so calm and happy where ever we went, not to mention looking absolutely fabulous! Each time we met I found myself asking more and more questions about baby wearing. I was fascinated. All she kept saying was, ‘when the baby is born get yourself to a sling library.’

I found Salford Sling and Meet online and joined their Facebook group whilst I was still pregnant! I couldn’t wait. We went to our first meeting when Cassius was 2 weeks old and a lovely lady named Hayley helped us pick out a sling. I borrowed a Close Caboo. Initially I was terrified, I was sure I was going to drop him. With a bit of practise we became pros. We actually went to Wales for the week with the Caboo. After worrying about fitting the pram and all it’s contraptions into our Fiat 500. We need not have bothered taking it, I carried Cassius for the whole week. I was hooked, I couldn’t wait to get back to the library to see what else they had for us.

I had seen some of the other girls with their gorgeous woven wraps and their skilful, artistic carries! It looked so complicated and scary. I was sure that I would just end up a big sweaty mess, on sheepish trip to A&E, with a broken baby!
Despite my fears I asked if someone could explain the woven wraps to me and to see how I’d get on.

Lucy, a volunteer at the sling meet showed me the woven wraps and picked out Soul, a size 6 Ali Dover. At the time this information meant nothing to me. Lucy explained how to use the wrap safely, how baby should be supported by the wrap, how to tighten the carry, how to tie the wrap and how to take baby out safely. I could not believe how amazing it felt to hold my baby this way. He felt so close and safe and he instantly fell asleep. It was the middle of Summer and the woven wrap was so much cooler than the stretchy too. I borrowed the wrap for 2 weeks and it changed my life! I could clean my house, go to the shops, eat my food, use both my hands, all the time knowing that Cassius was safely snugged up with me.

If he had trouble getting to sleep at night I just wrapped him up. It helped with his wind, when he had his jabs and just recently through a period of sleep regression.

There was no stopping me. Thanks to the support from the wonderful volunteers at the Sling Library, I borrowed several more wraps and learned some new carries. A few weeks ago I learned even more about the ‘World of Woven Wraps’ and all the fun that comes with it. The excitement of getting your hands on a rare wrap, the ballots, the Facebook groups, the new releases and all the fantastic designers and brands. I was hooked! I also learned that it was not a cheap hobby with some wraps costing over £400. There was no way I could afford to get my own wrap, especially since my maternity pay was decreasing at a rapid rate!

The following week Samantha mentioned the Fledgling Scheme to me. A scheme put together by Firespiral Woven Wraps for people, like myself who are new to baby wearing. The amazing discount offered by Firespiral for those new to baby wearing is outstanding and hard to believe. I did not waste any time and tried out a couple of their wraps. They were beautiful, soft and so easy to wrap with. The next week I returned ready to sign up.

After a few days of looking at all the beautiful wraps on the Firespiral website I decided on Rosecup Aqua Festival in a 6. I am now the proud owner of my very own Firespiral wrap. I am becoming more familiar with different blends, carries and how this new hobby of mine works. I have made so many new friends through Salford Sling and Meet and the wider baby wearing community, it’s amazing! I would recommend baby wearing and the fledgling scheme to all new mums. As for the pram, I’m thinking of sticking it on eBay to buy my next wrap.

http://www.alidover.com/
https://www.firespiralslings.co.uk/
http://www.slingandmeet.co.uk/