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.

Want to know what I think?

At twelve weeks in the comments really start to begin.

‘Oh wow you really are looking so small,

has your baby even started to grow at all?’

‘I just do not think you are eating well,’ quickly followed by

‘Oh my god you are starting to swell!’

‘I wouldn’t do that, I would do this…

(Just in case my previous comment you missed)

Do you want to know why I would do it this way?

Why won’t they listen to what YOU want to say?

You are nearing the end, you are tired and feel past it,

but their obsessive prying and comments, I wish they could mask it.

‘They’ll probably come late, at least two weeks over,

I’d just forget your Birth-plan.’

I’m not sure how I kept my composure?!

Baby is here! My world is complete

but still they drone on, they will not be beat.

‘Oh baby looks small, are they not eating well? Wow, look at their belly it’s starting to swell!’

How are you feeding them, bottle or breast? You want my opinion… ‘cus you know, I KNOW BEST!’

The opinions and comments they go ON and ON!

About mother and baby and how things ‘should’ be done.

So next time you see a new mum and her child,

hold on to your judgement and offer your smile.

Lucy

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?

Birth Story

Baby Girl

Delilah is now four weeks old, I cannot quite believe it. She is still a tiny little dot, I feel like I am going to break her, it is so strange getting used to a newborn again.

Some of you will be aware that my pregnancy was not an easy ride, I struggled with Hyperemesis from day one and it lasted right through the pregnancy, tapering off finally at about 36 weeks. I still was not quite right up until the birth, it was a complete shock especially after the very easy going pregnancy that I had with Cass.

My waters broke very early on Saturday morning. Will had only just returned from work at 3am and around 3.30am I woke up convinced I had wet myself. I just put it down to a really low point for my bodily functions (there have been a few) and tried to go back to sleep. It was only then that I thought that rather than my bladder and pelvic floor finally throwing in the towel, it was probably my waters. After a quick google (to make sure) I contacted the midwife who told me to make my way to the hospital.

My wonderful sister jumped in her car and travelled nearly two hours to collect Cass, who was over the moon with his early morning adventure. Will and I travelled the short 15 minute trip to the hospital. It was 6am and at this point I was having a couple of niggles but nothing regular, I just thought I would be sent home after a quick check.

The midwife examined me at 6.30am and said I was around 1cm dilated which is normal for someone who has already had a child, but not to go home. She suggested going to Costa Coffee for a brew. Off we went.

We made it to the front entrance of the hospital and I could not move any further, the contractions came from no where and they were fast and strong. I am not really sure how we made it back up to the ward. Lots of people kept offering to help and I remember thinking all I wanted to do was take all my clothes off and lay on the floor.

By the time we made it back to the ward it was 7.15am. I immediately removed all my clothes and got on the floor, I could feel baby coming and the midwife rushed off to fill the pool. I think I jumped in the pool with about 2cm of water in it, this baby was definitely coming and fast. As I felt her move down and her head crown, she seemed to be taking longer than I would have liked. I told the midwife that I needed to push as well as let my body do the work.

At 8am and one and a half songs into my Florence and the Machine playlist, Delilah Paige was born. She was as quiet as a mouse and I could see that the midwife was concerned, so she cut the umbilical cord earlier than planned, thinking that Delilah may need some help. It was then that she let out few squeaks and a huge cry and we knew she was ok.

I was so overcome with emotion and could not stop crying and saying ‘she looks like Cass.’ I kept asking the nurse to check if she was ok, it all happened so quickly, it didn’t feel real. Will took Delilah and had skin to skin whilst I attempted to make my way out of the pool, the after pains were so strong this time I just felt like I could not hold on to her and I wanted to get out of the pool as fast as I wanted to get in it.

The hours following Delilah’s birth were absolutely perfect, we were in an exhausted, shell shocked, blissful bubble. After a twenty hour labour with Cass I just could not believe that Delilah had arrived in approximately two.

The staff at St Mary’s, Manchester were unbelievable and we were home that evening by 7pm. I was mentally prepared for a long, back to back labour with lots of drama, so what had happened was a wonderful surprise. I am grateful for the birth that I had and put it down to my body just giving me a bit of a break after the past nine months.

Spinning Plates

I am thirty five weeks pregnant today, but what I can only describe as being an eventful and at times traumatic pregnancy, does not mean that it has been all doom and gloom. I have learnt a lot about myself and put a lot of positive changes in place over the past few months. It has been really hard and I have had to face up to a lot but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Deep down I am a bit of a control freak, I do like to know where I am heading with things and a take great pleasure from following a good plan, however for the past eight months the plan has well and truly been abandoned. I have had to take what can only be described as a huge step back from life. I have had to say no to a lot of things and to a lot of people, family, friends, work, fun, food. At times this has been extremely hard but I have had to listen to my doctor and just ride it out!

I have realised that I have a constant desire to be busy, to always have five or six plates spinning at the same time. Like I have been conditioned to believe that I should be multi-tasking my way through life without taking a moment to breathe. Is this something that as women we are led to believe we should be doing, or is it something we want to be doing? Is it actually nothing to do with gender at all and more a trait of certain personalities? For me it is almost like a desire to accomplish so much in such a small amount of time, like a challenge to reach a certain point as fast as possible. Where ever it came from I realised very quickly that it had to stop.

Initially letting go of everything and conserving energy to focus only on my health and Cass was bloody hard. Years of balancing everything and keeping those plates spinning will obviously have an impact on who you are and what you do. Gradually though I started to see how letting go was having a positive impact on my mental health. Granted the circumstances were a bit shit and I would have rather not been throwing up all day for the best part of a year, but maybe it was what I needed to stop all the noise. I gradually realised that life is a bit too short to be constantly feeding a need for being busy and attempting to accomplish too much in such a tiny space of time.

Some days getting out of bed was an achievement and sadly that had to be my only goal for the day, but once I had come to realise how great an accomplishment that actually was I was able to move on and stop beating myself up. Some days we went for a walk in the park and some days that was just too much so we watched telly instead. It has made me realise how important it is to take time to just be still. To enjoy your family, your work, your friends and not be distracted by a million other things that are going on and to give yourself a break every once in a while and ease off on the plate spinning.

Life is too short and our children grow too quickly, change happens so fast. I have spent the past thirty three years of my life trying to be busy and get to places where I think I need to be when actually I think I just needed to appreciate what I already have and be still.

Big brother

We are now past the half way mark and despite being so poorly, baby girl is growing and so is my belly. Cass is starting to notice too, finding my belly button hilarious and jabbing it with his little fingers. He is starting to stroke my bump too whilst saying ‘baby’ which is amazing.

Even though he is still only a baby himself, I can feel that Cass is aware that something big is about to happen. It has been hard on him with all the hospital visits and quiet days in the house with me throwing up everywhere. However, I cannot wait to see him as a big brother, he is so loving and playful, but I know that this baby will bring about some huge changes and my baby boy will suddenly grow up overnight.

I love to watch Cass grow and it fascinates me how he learns and changes every day and I know the arrival of a new little person will change us all. I think it would be silly to think it will not. I feel like I need to really cherish these last few weeks alone with my baby boy, he has not asked for the chaos that comes with a new baby and as resilient as he is, at times he is going to find it hard. We all are.

I am trying to appreciate each moment with Cass as much as possible before we become four, but I also want to try and prepare him too. He is off to choose his own baby and pram this weekend with his dad, so that we can talk lots about the new baby arriving and how he can help be a big brother. He also helped me dig out all his old baby clothes ready to be washed for baby girl.

We have been taking time to talk to Cass about the new baby, asking him questions about the baby’s name and what he thinks is growing in mummy’s tummy. I still think he is a bit too young to understand fully but he is definitely interested, I cannot wait for him to feel her kicking.

We cannot wait for the arrival of our new baby girl and going from three to four is obviously going to have its challenges, but we are working to prepare Cass as much as we possibly can. Like most things with children though, it is impossible to know what is going to happen and in my experience, a waste of time and energy to plan every last detail. With Cass my expectations have always been exceeded, the good times have been better and the tough times harder and on many occasions my mind has been blown away. So, we are taking each day as it comes and going with the flow as much as possible.

Bring it on baby girl, we are ready for you! (Kind of)

Hyperemesis Gravidarum and some surprising news

This pregnancy has been absolutely nothing like my first, with Cass everything was a breeze. I did not have a toddler to look after nor did I have Hyperemesis.

The sickness has been bad, with two hospital admissions from being sick up to 30 times a day and an ongoing trial of many different medications, at times I’ve just forgotten how amazing pregnancy really is. It has been a struggle and it has been tough on Will and Cass too.

Hyperemesis is not just morning sickness, it is much more serious and can be life threatening for both the mother and the baby. Pregnancies can lead to organ failure in the mother and impact the life of the foetus. It has had a negative impact on my mental health, the blood vessels in my eyes burst, my throat has bled from vomiting so much and my mouth has been constantly covered in ulcers. I have had to continuously monitor my fluid intake and be extremely cautious when eating food. Smells, too much fluid, not enough fluid, movements, getting out of bed too quickly, not getting out of bed quick enough, doing too much, stress and food have all triggered uncontrollable, all day sickness. Hyperemesis has been the most unpredictable illness I have ever had in my life and the only real relief that I have felt has been the IV drips and intravenous medication that I have received at the hospital.

I have been lucky and I have had the care of an outstanding GP and the care of the staff at the Manchester Royal Infirmary has been amazing. I felt like my condition was taken seriously and a plan was put in place immediately. However, this is not always the case for a lot of women and I realised last week when I had to speak with a different doctor, just how little some professionals actually know about the illness.

His advice to me was to eat some ginger biscuits and have a herbal tea, and that, ‘it’s just morning sickness and I should just put up with it, most women get it.’ At the time, probably due to exhaustion I was in tears, but afterwards it just made me so sad that this is the level of care that some women get in the face of a life threatening illness. I had only just been discharged from hospital the day before and was so frustrated by the ignorance of someone who was meant to help. If any women reading are struggling with sickness and you feel you are not getting the care you need I would suggest that you look for a second opinion.

However, despite all the sickness, we are still over the moon about our newest addition. I am feeling lots of movement now which is magical and puts everything in perspective, my bump is getting bigger and bigger each week and the consultant reassured me that despite me suffering so much, the baby is growing and doing fine.

I was convinced we were having a little boy, but an early scan revealed that we are actually having a little GIRL. Cass would like to name his little sister ‘Roar,’ we have told him it has been added to the list.

Time to think

Over the past couple of weeks I have had quite a lot of time to think and I have had to make a few decisions about the future. The past nineteen months have been eye opening and I am slowly learning a lot about myself. At times it has been great, but being honest with yourself is sometimes really tough.

At my last midwife appointment the midwife wanted to know where I wanted to give birth, at first I thought, well obviously at home. We planned a home birth with Cass and it just seemed easier to stay at home.

After a while I started to think that maybe this was not actually the best option for me and my family. When I was pregnant with Cass I literally spent the whole nine months planning his birth. I wanted to be as prepared as possible for whatever happened.

We went to Hypnobirthing classes, opted for a home birth, hired a pool, wrote a birth plan, I thought we were going for a laid back approach. I knew I wanted to avoid unnecessary medical intervention and I did not want any medication so it just seemed easier for everyone if we just stayed at home.

Looking back now it was all quite stressful. Elvis, the dog, had to go in the kennels (I do not think he has fully forgiven us for this), we had to pump up a massive pool in our tiny kitchen and hang sheets from the windows as there are no curtains in there, what was meant to be a calm, tranquil birthing environment was more like a cave.

There were what felt like hundreds of people in our tiny home, I had lost all concept of time and space, the night became day and I did not even realise because the curtains were still closed. I felt like I was at some never ending afterparty in a strange house. It is hard to relax when there are total strangers walking round your house, I kind of felt like I should be making them a cup of tea or offering them a snack. No amount of Hypnobirthing was going to make me feel calm.

The worst thing was that the toilet was so far away, every time I needed the loo I had to try and climb the mountain face that is our stairs, and with a back to back baby this was not pleasant.

Home birth is such a wonderful experience for a lot of women and to be honest it did start off wonderful,but in the end, and in hindsight I can see it just was not for me. What I really learned is that I love natural light, routine and space. I feel like I need the routine of the hospital to keep me on track, I need to be able to just move and walk and the hospital will have a lot more space than our cosy little home. I also would like the pleasure of just coming home to a house that is not full of medical equipment or the stress of having to put away a birth pool.

It is not about me thinking my choices are the best or the right choices for everyone, it is about seeing what works well for me and choosing that. Also, learning to understand why it works for me and trying to avoid falling into trends or being easily led. This time I am not going to try micromanage the birth and everyone involved, I am just going with what feels right at the time and hopefully everything will be slightly calmer. Who knows though, I’ll probably end up having the baby in the car on the way to the hospital.

My Valentine

Sometimes we live our lives at such a fast pace that we become totally unaware of those around us. Not because we are selfish or thoughtless, just because we are trying to survive and do the best that we possibly can for our families in a hectic and busy world. I am never fully aware of what is going on around me especially when it comes to thinking about Will, I am guilty of taking him for granted and I am working on this.

These past three weeks have consisted of me not actually doing very much and Will, doing everything. I keep saying, ‘oh I’ll do that, I’ll see if I can take Cass out for an hour,’ and then not really having the energy to move or just feeling so sick I cannot face leaving the house.

It has given me time to think about how lucky I am. I am so guilty of using the line, ‘I do everything around here,’ and can often be seen piling washing into the machine in a rage. But actually, having some time at home has made me realise that it is not me that does everything, in fact I do very little and laying here feeling sorry for myself (with good reason of course) has been quite humbling.

It is actually Will who takes on all the childcare, Will who cooks all the family meals, Will who does all the food shopping and tries to keep the house clean with a pint size dictator in tow. It is Will who takes the bins out, Will who walks the dog and takes Cass to nursery and Will who does all of this whilst having a job and studying for his Masters.

I go to work and almost forget that all of this goes on, come home, do bedtime and then eat a delicious home cooked meal. Working all day is hard and it is exhausting in a different way, but that does not make what I do any more important that what anyone else does with their day, especially my husband.

I have come to realise that I had become so stressed out and consumed with myself and how I felt about working all day, that I have forgotten to appreciate how much Will is actually doing to care for us. It is only now that I have been forced to stop my weekly routine, that I can see really how lucky Cass and I are to have him.

Families are built up of so many different dynamics, with people taking on different roles. From single parent families, with very little support to those who have close family living near by to help out, but all families face challenges. Cass only has me and Will, as all our family live in other cities. Sometimes it is a struggle and sacrifices have to be made, it is hard work but it is manageable. I need to take the time to be more aware of what is going on around me and with our family, I will be working hard to keep this going and just taking sometime to look around me has helped me realise just how lucky I am.

We do not normally celebrate Valentine’s Day, not for any deep or social reason just because we are bloody lazy and by the time one of us remembers all the cards have sold out. But this year my Valentines gift to my husband is to be more thankful, considerate and present. This will probably be the year where he decides he would prefer a card instead.