You do YOU!

As a first time mum, I spent at least 90% of my time santitising everything in sight, including my kid. Bottles were boiled and then soaked, clothes were washed in organic baby safe detergent made from unicorn horns with antibacterial properties, and I bought NSW out of hand sanitiser – which I poured over anyone who came to visit Henry. I was so paranoid about Henry getting sick from germs, I would actually give his bath a bath before he was allowed in it. Obviously now that I have a 16 month old teenager, this has all had to change – because Henry licks the floor on a daily basis and just last week he brushed his teeth with toilet gel.

So anyway, I had Henry in the pram recently and was strolling around home (Kmart) mainly looking to purchase things I can’t afford and don’t need, and I was stopped by a woman who had picked up Henry’s dummy off the ground. “I’ll give you this, he obviously can’t have it back now” she said. And for some strange reason, I immediately replied with “Oh nope, definitely not, we’ll take that home and then wash it” – knowing full well that as soon as she turned the corner out of the bathroom accessories aisle that dummy was going straight back in my kid’s mouth. Reflecting on it afterwards, I’m not sure why I didn’t just tell her “whatever’s on the floor here isn’t as bad as the dog turd he ate in the park last week” but oddly it was my immediate reflex to just agree with her – and then wait for her to leave the scene before I gave Henry the dummy, like I was committing some kind of crime.

So here’s my advice that I clearly didn’t follow – be proud to do what you’ve gotta do to be the best mum you can be. And don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing it wrong – because at the end of the day, if you made it to Kmart and wrestled a toddler into a pram, you deserve that candle – and if that means floor-dummy then so be it!

Don’t worry, it will get easier..

I distinctly remember sitting on the lounge trying to breast feed Henry on day 4 (felt like day 24) home from the hospital, crying my eyes out wondering how something that everyone says is so wonderful could possibly be so hard. My gut looked like i had just stepped out of the ‘supersize me’ mini series, my hair hadn’t been washed since i excitedly blowdried it in preparation for labour almost a week ago (what a waste that was), there was breast milk on the walls (you would not believe the distance that stuff can go), and my nipples felt like someone had literally rubbed sandpaper on them for eight hours straight and then set them on fire. I also remember, that everyones answer to all my questions, worries and complaints was “don’t worry, it gets easier”. Henry is now fifteen months old (ok, ok almost one and a half) – and last week he shit on my arm. So, I’m starting to get suspicious that it doesn’t ever get easier, what actually happens is that by the time they turn one, we are so tired, defeated and hairy, that we have become desensitised to things like shit on our arms, and our brains are tricked into thinking the storm has calmed. Things that most humans would find totally unmanageable (and in some cases, revolting) become normal, and things that were normal before, like having time to shave both legs in the same shower are now unheard of. So here’s my advice to new mums for what it’s worth – don’t freak out when time goes on and you haven’t found that miraculous “easier” window yet. Sure, the kinds of challenges that come with each age are going to evolve – but even though you might not be walking around in spanx and a vomit stained shirt any more, let me tell you – trying to make a one year old eat their broccoli before their sausage will make you seriously re evaluate how bad the vomit really was.

Another day in paradise…

So this morning at 3am as I stumbled down the hallway toward Henry’s room feeling my way along the walls with my eyes still closed, using his ear splitting scream as a guide to find him in the dark – I thought to myself, “wow this is the life”. Finally made it to his bedroom, spent the better part of half an hour patting him on the butt so hard the whole cot shook with every slap, while trying to keep myself upright in between micro sleeps – and just before I tip toed out I thought it would be a good idea to re start his music so he didn’t wake up again. So I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself, he’s snoring away quietly in the corner and I’ve gone for the quick tap on the iPad to start what I thought were soothing lullabies and by some sick twist of fate, something resembling old school Eminem with a base line on steroids starts blaring out – I kick my toe on the beside table in the rush to turn the volume down and in assessing the pain I’m thinking I’m going to need an amputation. Next minute old mate not only wakes up again and screams but proceeds to start dancing and fist pumping his dummy in the air to the beat. He looks me right in the eyes in the glow of the iPad still going on max volume and if he could talk I swear to god he would have been saying “epic fail mum”. Admitting defeat, I tucked him under my arm and marched back up the hallway, now very much awake and threw him in bed with me hoping for the best – and then spent the next hour having my eyelids peeled open, my neck skin pinched and a high pitched giggles echoing down my ear drums. Another day in paradise – what a time to be alive. 

#Helicopter Mum

Sitting in the park today watching Henry climb up one stair and fall off it over and over again, made me think about what kind of Mum I am. I think having a baby has made me both more and less Judge Judy about other parents, and how they manage their kids.

Its kind of like my plan to put makeup on and dress my bump in some crazy cute maternity clothes and walk around glowing every day of my pregnancy – well we all know how that turned out.. because by 30 weeks I was so sweaty makeup wouldn’t even stick to my face, and that’s about as close to the ‘glow’ I ever got.

In the same way, before having Henry I would watch parents in the park with their kids falling over in the dirt and spilling food all over themselves, thinking to myself that my future children would always be in a clean change of clothes, and would never hurt themselves because I would be a total helicopter parent. Looking back on that today as Henry fell on his head for the fifth time, and ate a pile of bark that someone’s dog had probably peed on at some point – I had to laugh.

To keep Henry clean, I would literally have to take 34 changes of clothes and a portable-baby-sized-soft-car-wash with me at all times. The kid is out of control. He will touch, play in, and eat pretty much anything with the exception of avocado. And to stop him hurting himself? God. I would have to lock him in a padded room with 24 hour surveillance and a paramedic on call and still I reckon he would probably scratch himself in the face or eat the stuffing out of the walls.

I’m torn between wanting to be there to clean him and bubble wrap him – because I’m petrified of him being out in the big bad world. But I have really surprised myself being able to take a step back and let him learn things for himself. I think as parents the best thing we can do is love our kids and of course be there to catch them when they need it… but I also think that letting them fall sometimes is just as important.

Are you ready for a baby?…

My expectations about being a mum and what its actually like being a mum can be accurately compared to reading the Harry Potter book and then seeing the movie. COMPLETELY different.

It goes beyond my aspirations to be a trend setting milf taking my baby to cafes and wearing oversize sunglasses in perfectly filtered Instagram photos. Incidentally, going to a cafe with a baby is now in my top five nightmares, and in fact you couldn’t pay me enough to voluntarily take Henry anywhere in public that involves food with no splash mat or gurney handy. But more significantly than any of that is the difference between what i thought about having a baby IN my life, to whats actually happened. The baby has taken OVER my life.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the little dude more than words can even come close to describing. I think I just got caught up in that mentality that I could be, and had to be prepared for motherhood. That having all the rights toys, and learning about the sleep routines, and getting my mum hair cut somehow meant i was ready. Like studying for an exam. The difference with that is you do all your learning and do the exam and then it goes away. Henry kind of stuck around.

Every single day is a learning curve. I finally got the hang of breastfeeding (that is, my nipples stopped falling off) and then suddenly it was time for formula and that meant taking fifty bottles, a thermos of hot water, and trialling enough different formulas to feed every baby in the southern hemisphere to find the right one. I came out the other side of the baby vomit, nipple cream and 2am poo on the carpet and made my grand entrance back into the public setting, cautiously making my way further and further distances from the safe haven of home where i could properly deal with category 3 poonamis and screaming reflux episodes. Then i blinked and Henry started crawling and eating solids which meant going out to the shops became a combination of wearing protective goggles and constantly apologising to waitresses, and chasing after the little ninja in a very public scene that looks like a human version of animal planet.

So in conclusion, my advice to new mums, or people thinking about becoming new mums is there is no such thing as ‘ready for a baby’. It happens and you just do it – because you have to. Its scary and crazy and exhausting and smelly – but it is also the most fulfilling, out-of-this-world kind of love that you will ever know.

 

 

 

Congratulations! When will you have another?

So you have finally emerged from the vomit stained, poo flinging, brain exploding, sleepless months that are fondly labelled ‘the newborn stage’. You can breathe again. You walk in the sunlight, take a shit without a baby attached to your chest, have a shower before 2pm, and upload photos of yourself on Instagram without 94 filters. You have finally got the hang of this mum gig – and then for some unimaginable reason, people think its a great time to ask that question that gives me simultaneous head spins and acid reflux.

When will you have another?

So casual. Like they are offering me a bag of twisties.

Then comes the advice.

  1. Have them close together so they can be good friends
  2. Have them all quickly then you can work on your body and get a boob job afterwards
  3. Have all your kids first and then you have the rest of your life for your career

Let me just put this topic to bed once and for all. Henry is nine months old. That’s nine months since labour. That is only 252 days since i saw my entire life flash before my eyes, i physically assaulted my husband with a Michelle Bridges fit ball, and i wore two pairs of size 14 full brief undies and a surfboard whopper stopper (sanitary pad) in front of six nurses a doctor and my mother. Im still suffering from PTLD (Post Traumatic Labour Disorder) and sleep deprivation.

Mostly importantly though, Henry is still so tiny. He needs all my attention and all my love, and I’m not ready to take that away from him yet. Plus, when he is 15 he will be great help with a newborn.

Sleepless in Cronulla

“Is he a good sleeper?” is kind of on par with “is he a good baby”. It’s a hard question to answer for two reasons. One, because it’s all relative and and personal experience will of course impact on your ideas of what a good sleeper looks like – and two, because my son, Lucifer hasn’t actually slept since he was born. One main contributor to this was my classic first-time-mum mistake of rocking him to sleep while he was still tiny and I didn’t want to put him down. So now that he’s six months, going on seven kilos and has the unfortunate habit of gauging my eyeballs out with his talons, the rocking to sleep is getting old really fast. In his defence, poor little Henry suffers from reflux, so even once he falls asleep he’s often woken by heartburn which i can totally relate to because I was a walking advertisement for Mylanta while I was pregnant with him. For this reason, I’m reluctant to let him cry until i can properly discern between when he’s being a pest, and when he’s actually in pain. In the meantime, sleep around here is a precious commodity – and let me tell you my ninja skills have never been sharper. I have mastered the art of rolling off my bed without moving the mattress and sneaking past the cot with exactly the right angle at my knees to prevent any loud joint-cracking. Most recently I have developed a 6th sense for approaching couriers or visitors, and if i time it correctly i can intervene before any knuckle to door contact wakes His Highness. I’ve heard crazy tales of parents vacuuming around their sleeping babies to get them used to the noise… Well, Henry wakes from the change in atmospheric pressure when i shift from my left to my right foot, so i think the vacuuming will have to wait.

I’m not a regular Mum.. I’m a ‘cool’ Mum

From as early as I can remember I was determined to be a ‘cool’ mum. As a teenager, whenever my parents told me I couldn’t do something, and then subsequently punished me for doing it anyway – I made a mental note to let my future kids do whatever they want. Incidentally, in this original fantasy I was wearing a matching velour tracksuit with fake boobs and oversized Gucci sunglasses and all my imaginary son’s imaginary friends talked about how smoking hot I was, and all my imaginary daughter’s imaginary friends came to me for fashion advice. Now that i’m a real mum in my pyjamas with my boobs hovering just above my knees, threatening to pay a visit to my calves, the fantasy is wearing a bit thin. But most importantly, now that I am privy to the unbelievable amount of love a parent can feel for their child, I suddenly feel compelled to apologise to my parents for being such a total bitch of a teenager. Because it turns out, when they said I would get older and understand their “totally unfair” parenting decisions, they were right. So, as much as I would love to be the ‘cool’ mum that I aspired to be, Henry won’t ever drink underage, or bring any girls home, or go to any parties, or drive any cars – mainly because he actually won’t ever be leaving the house. And when I’m 100 years old and Henry is 76 (with a severe vitamin D deficiency), and we are playing chess beside my death bed, he will look into my eyes and thank me for keeping him safe. It’s funny how your fantasies change.

 

The truth about labour

In the weeks leading up to my due date I was determined to prepare myself for labour by finding out exactly what I was in for. So I watched every season of ‘One Born Every Minute’ available on YouTube, and spent hours googling ‘what does labour feel like’. Then, after two weeks of this high intensity internet research I commenced stage two of the investigation – interrogating everyone I knew who had recently had children. There were two statements that I consistently heard;

  1. “Its like really, really, bad period pain”
  2. “As soon as you have your baby, you won’t even remember the pain of labour”

So when I rocked up to the maternity ward, I was ready. I had my heat packs, a handy travel pack of panadol rapid, and my super cute blue fit-ball that I planned to leisurely bounce on in a meditative state while practicing the breathing I learnt in my $300 calm birth class. As it turned out, the only thing the heat packs and fit-ball were good for were throwing at my husband, and panadol rapid for labour is the equivalent of trying to treat a gun shot wound with one of those tiny round finger bandaids.

For all you first time mums out there in the pre-labour investigative stage, and to anyone guilty of using the period pain analogy, let me just clear something up for you. Labour is not like period pain. Not even really, really bad period pain. Labour is like someone has stabbed you in the lower back with a cactus while simultaneously amputating every limb from your entire body. The memory of it isn’t surpassed by your love for your baby, it’s blocked out by your nervous system in an attempt to save the pain receptors in your brain from imploding and causing a major aneurysm.

If you ask me, there is nothing in the world that can adequately prepare you for the horror that is childbirth. I will say though- there is truth to some rumours, and I can confirm that it absolutely IS worth it.

Sweat pants are the only thing that fit me right now

My dream of remaining a size 8 with a bolt-on-belly died slowly but surely in my pregnancy. I was diagnosed with pre-clampsia in the third trimester – for those of you who haven’t had experience with this, it’s basically really high blood pressure with the unfortunate side effect of elephantitis of the entire body. My feet blew up so badly that I needed havaianas two sizes bigger than what I would normally wear, and my sausage fingers rejected my wedding rings so I was a single lady from around 30 weeks (come and get me boys). In response to my concern about the rapid weight gain my well-meaning obstetrician carefully suggested that perhaps if I were offered the option of a carrot and a piece of cake I should probably take the carrot. For those of you who have never carried a large amount of excess weight, (baby or cake) – its bloody hard work. To make matters worse, my sweaty betty alter ego did not take kindly to my one bedroom concrete unit with a large sun-facing window in summer. I spent most afternoons sprawled across my neighbours couch with two Kmart fans on full blast thinking to myself if I could get through this I could definitely do labour (little did I know). But through it all I could see the light at the end of the tunnel because after you have the baby and start breastfeeding all the weight just FALLS off they said, it will be FINE they said. Yeah well Henry is verging on five months old and I can’t even fit into my Spanx. So, for now my MILF career is on hold, but watch this space.