Who would have thought one whole hour of the clocks going back would have caused so much mayhem? Gone are the days I used to think that an extra hour in bed to nurse my hangover was the dream. No, no. Children have other plans. Like waking up at 5am every day. Refusing naps. Being over tired at 5pm. IT’S ONLY ONE HOUR. WHY? HOW? I honestly think my permanent look for life is going to be a bedraggled witch. But on the plus side, it gets dark earlier so no longer have to continue to re-stick a black-out blind or obsess about the sunlight peeping through a tiny crack. You can’t win them all I guess. But we've had self-settling success, finally! And I've figured out what to say to people who want to question why I'm still breastfeeding - starts with F...
So it’s been yet another exhausting week. Like seriously, I don’t need no Halloween costume. Rafe still has a cough, but is getting better. And his ear infection and viral rash seem to have gone the distance (thank God). But since his birthday he has been poorly. So pretty much the whole of October he has not been not himself. Cough, viral rash, ear infection – plus teething. It’s been a laugh a minute. I do feel so sorry for him as he really has gone through it and just hasn’t been himself at all. He’s been nursing quite a bit in the night too but think it’s been more of a comfort thing than the fact he is hungry. So we are both pretty wrecked. I genuinely find it hard to string sentences together which was fine when I was on maternity leave – not so much when I’m at work. But he is so much better and makes you realise how much being poorly takes it out of them as he is full of beans now.
Rafe’s still being really fussy with food but a lot of it is down to him being poorly so haven’t tried anything new or even attempted to tackle it to be honest. I’ve just been giving him what I know he will eat – just to get anything down him at the moment. The dog still gets a lot of his food and I find I am picking remains of Rafe’s tea off Yankee’s ears on an evening, but hoping he picks up next week. Though however poorly he is – wave a yogurt, biscuit - anything sweet in front of him and he is like a moth to a flame.
Thank you for everyone’s advice on breastfeeding the other week. As always, it’s good to know other people have gone/or are going through the same experiences I am. Especially when people touched on the pressure they felt. I guess it’s kind of funny that to start with, you are encouraged to breastfeed, yet it seems, from my own experience and also others – that once baby hits one, it seems like you are then judged for still breastfeeding. Like you can't win. I have had the ‘you’re still breastfeeding’ comments and ‘when are you going to stop?’ question seems to come up more often than it ever did. A few months ago we were at a local park and there was a woman there with her friends, all of them with children. Her little boy was walking and must have been maybe 16-18 months old. He was running around and then he wanted to nurse. So his mum sat on a bench and breastfed him for a few minutes while she chatted to her friends. He finished and then happily started playing again and as the other mum covered up, her two friends looked at each other and both rolled their eyes. It made me quite upset and really angry. Your supposed to support your friend when they are breastfeeding, however long they decide to nurse. It's fucking hard sometimes! Honestly, still gives me rage now! I would never question/judge how anyone else chooses to feed. At the end of the day, I just need to do what is best for Rafe and I. So just going to keep on doing what I'm doing. The World Health Organisation recommends to feed until 2 (obviously can carry on for longer or less) so I think I will aim for that and if we stop in-between that time, that’s okay too. And if people have an issue with it, well in the nicest possible way they can fuck off.
I think we might have had some progress with self-settling at night…So since time began, I have been shushing Rafe to sleep. Tried self-settling a while back but then kind of gave up after some success and then a regression came and it all went tits up again. And I honestly didn’t mind the cuddles. But as he gets bigger and heavier, my back is absolutely hanging out. And it was just by chance that one night I was desperate for a wee so I put Rafe straight in his cot after he fed and he cried (obviously), but after going to the loo and popping my breast pads in, pottering around for a few more minutes – BAM he was asleep. WHAT THE FUCK? So, in the night, when he fed and I put him down, he cried a little, then went to sleep without shushing. So I have been literally just saying night, then put him down, walk away and I leave him to have a little cry then normally, within 5-10 minutes he is a sleep. I don’t leave him longer than 10 minutes as I know that he is just not going to settle but fingers crossed – it seems to have done the trick. I never really liked leaving him to cry it out, but for a few minutes if he doesn't go down straight away works for us. So there’s hope kids – hope!!
Taking Rafe to his first fireworks display tonight. He's not a huge fan of loud noises so this could be an eventful night...We've bought him some special headphones so hopefully they will do the trick! Wish us luck...
Until next week,
The stages of breastfeeding by me….
Pregnant me: “I really want to give breastfeeding a good go – but won’t put too much pressure on myself. Will aim for six months.”
Day 5 postpartum: “HOW IS THIS SO HARD? IT’S NATURAL. IT IS WHAT WOMEN HAVE BEEN DOING SINCE TIME BEGAN YET I CAN’T GET HIM TO LATCH ON TO MY FLIPPING NIPPLE.”
Day 10 postpartum: “Okay, so I’ve ordered my 7th breastfeeding pillow – I’ve got this.”
Week 4 postpartum: “Why are my husband’s nipples so useless? Does he snore when I’m up all night feeding on purpose?”
Week 8: “CLUSTER FEEDING YOU WILL END ME.”
Week 12: “It’s clicked – finally! I am so glad I didn’t give up. Can I have wine though?”
Six months: “I don’t want to give up quite yet. Actually I’m really starting to love it. Still wouldn’t mind husband’s nipples being more useful.”
Eight months: “Oh hi mastitis. Ffffff.”
Ten months: “Goodbye nursing bras (as dropped most of the day feeds) that make my boobs hang low and wobble to and fro.”
Twelve months: “How has it been a year? Really can’t imagine and don’t want to stop breastfeeding yet. As much as it has been the hardest things I’ve ever done, especially those early months – it’s actually turned out to be one of the best.”
“When are you going to stop breastfeeding?” Someone asked me this week and the answer was honestly, I don’t know. I know I don’t need to put a timeframe on it, but I feel like I need to – just so I can prepare Rafe – and also myself for it. Does that sound dramatic? I just want to know when his last feed will be – not because I need to be congratulated – or have my husband playing a fanfare on a French horn. (Tempting). Just because it’s been such an important part of my life, I don’t want to just suddenly stop. Although I know that might be out of my control. Maybe I’m being over sentimental – but for me. Breastfeeding has been, in such a noisy, busy world, outside and in my own head, a much needed quiet time. And when Rafe holds my hand when he’s feeding, it’s like it’s just me and him in the whole world. It’s also been something that has become so engrained in my own routine – it’s going to be so strange when I stop. Liberating also! And so many shots of tequila will be drunk. Who my kidding? I’ll have a hot cuppa and give my saggy boobs a high five – while my husband plays the French horn (not a euphanism).
(And I must say, this is not a smug, look at me, I breastfeed post, it's your boobies – so absolutely your own choice. NO JUDGEMENT HERE.)
Been a bit of challenging week this week. Rafe still has a nasty cough so think I will take him to the doctors this week. Or try get him seen today. He is fine in himself, just can’t seem to shift it and seems to get worse in the night. We also had the dreaded 12 month immunisations on Wednesday. Can you believe they do FOUR? Anything medical, or a time when I know Rafe may be scared or be in pain – can be quite a trauma trigger for me. And immunisations are not a fun experience for any mum or dad – and of course the child. My dad came with me which massively helped and made me more ‘level-headed’ about it. And although he sobbed his little heart out when they were getting done and for a few minutes after – he was absolutely fine within five minutes. A little grumpy in the afternoon but nothing to worry about at all. I think it’s us who dread and hate them more! I felt okay during, it was more a few hours later I started to think about them – and get a flashback to Rafe crying. But then I grounded my breathing and reminded myself Rafe was okay. And he really was okay - he bossed them really!
It’s also been a challenge as I have had a water infection. Honestly – I won’t go into too much detail but holy fucking crap. I was sat on the toilet for basically two nights. It was the first time where I really felt it hit me that my husband wasn’t there. I couldn’t just say, “oi, stop snoring and go see to Rafe.” Only I could do that and I just felt horrendous. So it was a difficult couple of nights – but AMEN to antibiotics.
Rafe’s very, very, very wobbly first steps are starting to become less wobbly and this week, he is pulling himself up everywhere and wanting to be on his feet. Yet hasn’t quite worked out that he needs to still hold on to things or he will fall. But it’s exciting to see him become even more mobile/also scary. When people say – you can’t turn your back for one second. Never truer words spoken. I felt soooooo bad the other night. I normally just put Rafe in his cot if I’m upstairs and need to do things but I was running the bath and just needed to turn the tap off. I put Rafe in the middle of the bed – surrounded by a sea of cushion and was literally a second. Then a heard a cry. FFUCCCKKK. He had fallen off the bed. He was fine – he wasn’t hurt, he obviously just had a shock. But I had major, major, major mum guilt. And felt so stupid. But honestly thought he wouldn’t be able to pull all the cushions off and crawl to the end of the bed in literally a second – but he obviously can. I know accidents happen – but can’t help but feel so guilty. So yeah – when people say you can’t turn your back for one second. You bloody really can’t.
Rafe wasn’t in nursery this week as he had his jabs and I took the day off work so it felt like a ‘maternity leave’ day. And it was lush. Lots and lots of walking to get him to sleep (oh, those days…) and getting annoyed at Yankee for walking into the pram – but just what we needed. It’s been a lovely weekend too – and I’ve literally eaten my body weight in chocolate (no exaggeration) which is what weekends are for right? Oh and my husband was home. Must not forget about husband. On that note, I'm going to shovel some more m&m’s into my face.
Till next week,
“The baby stage is HARD.” “Just get through that first year.” Okay, but now what the fuck do I do?
When Rafe turned one on Saturday I was hit with every emotion under the sun. I think your baby turning one is such a momentous occasion. Not only because you look back at the year and think – where the actual fuck has the time gone? But because your baby is not a baby anymore. Although I know deep down he will always be my baby and hate me telling him that when he is 18, but throughout these months, people have said: “just get through this year!” and now I have, I’m like, what do I do? It’s still hard! He’ still not sleeping! I still don’t know what the fuck I am doing! It’s also a sobering reminder that I still look like I've been dragged through a hedge backwards and I can’t use the excuse of, “well I just had a baby a few weeks ago” or can I? It’s just a huge milestone. I’ve been taking those little photos every month, four months old, five months old, six months old…and now I’ve reached the end of the pack, I feel similar to how I felt when maternity leave ended. Like a little chapter has ended. And I have a lump in my throat again. It’s also been a time where you naturally look back. My time hop is littered with first photos of Rafe and I just hand on heart wish I could do it all again. Despite all my struggles – just give me a time machine and get me back so I can smell that newborn smell, hold his tiny hands in mine – have one more newborn cuddle. I think another reason I have been so emotional in the days leading up to Rafe’s birthday and the day itself is because you and your family are naturally quite nostalgic. “My contractions started this time last year.” “I would have been getting checked over by the midwife now.” “This was about the time you rang and said you were in labour.” And for me, certain memories and flashbacks were at the forefront of my mind. And I had some wobbly moments. I was naturally so overwhelmed with emotion that Rafe was one, feeling so lucky, surrounded by my friends and family celebrating such a beautiful occasion – but I was very much aware that I was also teetering on the edge and keeping a lot of my emotions in. And I felt guilty because among all the ‘good’ emotions I felt, I didn’t want to taint the day because of the anxiety I felt over my personal traumatic memories of the day Rafe was born. Yes, I am able to better manage my flashbacks most of the time now and I am coming out on the other side of all this – but I think Rafe’s birthday definitely was a natural trigger to make me feel like I had taken a step back. I did feel anxious and those flashbacks I felt were becoming more ‘emotional memories’ – kind of hit me in the face and I just wanted to block them out. I was a bit hard on myself to be honest, instead of accepting that I was going to possibly struggle that day, I just felt guilty for even having these feelings on what was such a lovely celebration. So I just kept it all in and then once Rafe was asleep and I was off to bed, I creeped into his room and felt overcome with emotion and had a good cry. Because that is what I needed. But I must say, for anyone else worried about a first birthday, all those emotions connected with the trauma of the birth, didn’t stop me from enjoying the day. It was lovely to see Rafe with all his presents (he was more interested in wrapping paper and balloons…), with his little pals and some of my close friends and family celebrating the day. Sometimes you forget that for a year, Rafe has not only brought joy (and exhaustion) to your life – he has changed other people’s lives too. And in the end, Rafe loved the day and that’s all that really matters. And his birthday cake was INCREDIBLE and I was eating the Hey Duggee icing figures for days after.
So now Rafe’s one. Does that mean he is a toddler now? I honestly can’t believe it. I just think back to all the times people have said – “just get through that first year” I think I believed after these 12-months I’d kind of know what I was doing but if anything, I have even more questions than before. (You never really know what you’re doing do you?) The health visitor came round this week for Rafe’s 12-month check (he has his immunisations next week – ahhhh. Are they bad? It's his normal nursery day so took the day off work in case he is upset) and she was happy with how Rafe was getting on. I mentioned replacing his afternoon formula with cow’s milk and she recommended a few things that although massively helpful – have confused the fuck me:
Rafe’s been poorly this week (cough and literally snots everywhere, he doesn’t quite understand ‘noooooo don’t do that’ when he sneezes and there is a snot explosion so he rubs it all over his face) so night-times have been very sleepless. Had to sleep on the floor in the nursery a couple of times as he had a temperature and was not a happy chappy. Although uncomfortable, having him shuffle to the edge of the cot to put his hand out for me to hold was pretty damn cute. I had major mum guilt this week as he was feeling better and less snotty so took him to nursery but had to go pick him up early because he wasn’t settling and wasn’t quite himself so felt so shit and guilty for sending him in the first place. And when I walked in, he was sat on a little table, with his little pals eating an apple, looking all grown up and it literally broke my heart. And then a little girl sat next to him was crying and he reached out his arm to touch he shoulder and that just tipped me over the edge. So back to sleep before I cry again…a mixed bag of SEND WINE to erm, okay you randomly slept through the night. Someone messaged me and recommended looking at ‘Save our Sleep Bedding Guide by Tizzy Hall. I haven’t had a look at it properly yet but I never thought that possibly the reason Rafe wasn't sleeping could be to do with what he was sleeping in. I always presume he is quite a hot baby but the other mum said she thought the same but since adding more layers (I think it’s more technical than that, like I said, haven’t had a proper look yet!) her baby has slept through. So quite frankly – it is worth a look once Rafe doesn’t have snots all over his face.
I honestly can’t even explain how overwhelmed I was with the amount of support I received after I opened up about my struggle with PTSD. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who took the time to read, share, comment and send me messages. I am not going to lie, I have found it quite difficult as I think because I’ve been holding everything in for a long time, to be so open and transparent, I felt - I still feel quite vulnerable. But hearing about other people’s experiences and everyone’s messages made me glad I have opened up as I do want to help other mums – in any way I can. Other mums have contacted me to say I have inspired them to open up about their own birth trauma – so for me, any vulnerability, fear, worry I feel about being so transparent, is totally worth it. Because being a mum is hard enough. So please message me if you need to talk to someone. This website is also a good starting point if you don't quite no where to go - https://www.birthtraumaassociation.org.uk/ I also need to accept that I will be living with this for sometime, some days, such as Rafe's birthday where there are obvious triggers, where it will be hard, or times I am caught off guard, or days where I can just sit down and talk about it and feel 'okay'. I do feel like I am coming out the other side of it though and hope that gives people hope.
And I think – on a less emotional note. Now Rafe is one I really need to start doing some fucking exercise. Can you send me some enthusiasm and motivation please? Realistically, I can only really exercise on an evening when Rafe, does anyone else do homework outs? I just know that once I’ve put Rafe to bed, all I want to do is still eat biscuits so the thought of doing anything but that makes me want to eat even more biscuits.
And finally...although Rafe has been saying dada and mama for a while - he's the past couple of weeks been saying mama to me, like he knows who I am. Which is just bloody wonderful.
Till next time,
Remember when you used to lie-in on a Sunday morning after having a few wines? When you had time to put on some make-up and brush your hair? Remember when you used to pluck your eyebrows and not have facial hair? Or sleep? Remember when you last had a full night’s sleep? Or a hot cup of tea? Nope. Those days are gone sunshine. But it’s been a pretty amazing year hasn’t it? People will tell you the first year will fly – but you don’t quite believe it. It’s been the toughest year of my life. But also the best. And it gets easier right? I mean toddlers must be a breeze...
So what have I learned since becoming a new mum? What words of wisdom would I like to pass on?
Okay, maybe a few more things…..
1. You can’t prepare for being a mum
You can read all the baby books in the world, google everything, download sleep routines, talk to all the mums you can find. But nothing can prepare you for the whirlwind of green poos, mustard poos, the first solid poo (HOW DOES IT SMELL THAT BAD?), the exhaustion, the routine-stress, naps – oh fucking naps are the devil, the cracked nipples, when your baby first smiles (your heart will stop), when they laugh, when they do something for the first time and you want to shout out to the world “MY BABY IS A GENUIS”, then they do a big poo explosion, the constant worry, routine, routine, routine, having to live with the fact your saggy ass boobs will remain saggy ass forever, the mum guilt, the really, really tough days, the monotony, the unconditional love, when they wrap their tiny fingers around yours, saying goodbye to your ‘carefree’ life – you can’t prepare for any of it. There is no manual for your baby. All babies are different. And you know your baby better than anyone – remember that. Oh - and everyone else is just winging it too.
2. The first six weeks are HARD
Those early weeks are tough. And you don’t quite understand how tough it is going to be until you’re sat alone at 1.30am, trying to get your four-day-old baby to latch on to a cracked nipple. And you’re so tired. So so so tired. And you feel so lonely. And you’re sat on a rubber ring. You haven’t been able to poo yet. And you’re scared. To poo. And you’re just scared because you have this little baby in your arms and you really don’t know what you’re doing. And, well you never really do. But you’ll get through it. And some days you will even wish you could go back to those days – get one more newborn cuddle because you will regret not treasuring those moments. However hard they were, you won’t remember them ever being that small, or how they ever just laid still and didn’t pull your hair.
3. There are a lot of white noise machines
And you will probably end up buying them all. Or at least spend half of your fucking maternity pay on a white noise machine that doesn’t actually fucking work. (Bit of a soft spot, can you tell?)
4. Hangovers and babies do not mix
“I’ll just have one more drink, I’ll be fine in the morning, we can go to the farm! Swimming!” The soft play!" Nope. Nope and definitely nope – YOU NEVER WANT TO GO TO A SOFT PLAY HUNGOVER. OR DURING HALF TERM.
5. Mum guilt is real
You will feel guilty for feeling guilt about feeling guilty. And judged. So judged. Judged for breastfeeding. Judged for not breastfeeding. Judged for not making your own chicken stock. Judged for going back to work. Judged for deciding not to go back to work. Judged for wanting a break. Judged for not wanting to spend a night away from your baby. Judged for having a drink. Judged for losing your baby weight. Judged for not. Judged for basically everything. But trust your instincts. Do what is best for you and your baby.
6. Your love for your baby is overwhelming
The love you feel for your baby will some days take your breath away. Like literally stop you in your tracks, you have never known a love like it. It’s a deep, in the gut, totally overwhelming, fiercely protective love that knows no bounds.
7. Women are strong as fuck (pardon my French)
We are all struggling one way or another – some more than others – and that’s nothing to feel ashamed about. Just because being a mum might not be all rainbows, giggles and joy every second of the day – it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mum, or you love your baby any less. And it doesn’t mean you don’t feel lucky, or grateful – you can feel lost and alone and sad, but still feel so lucky to be a mum. And it’s okay to ask for help. From sharing my own experiences with PTSD, I have been overwhelmed with the amount of messages of support and all the messages from other mums who can relate to my experience. Some who I know personally, who I never knew had been through such trauma. But as one mum said – as mothers, we find the strength from somewhere. We may feel like we are failing, or we can’t see our way out of the dark, or we simply don’t think we can take another sleepless night with our husband snoring away next to us (HOW CAN THEY SLEEP?), but we do. And you’re never alone. Remember that.
8. The world becomes a scarier place
You will be so much more aware of the tragedies that take place in the world and you will worry so, so SO much more. The world does seem scarier than it ever did before. All you want to do is protect your child forever. And with that – your own life becomes more important. I’m not saying I didn’t value my life before – but I definitely think about the future more and I hope with all my heart that I will be around to see my baby boy grow up and have his own family.
9. Your respect your parents more
You love your parents more than you ever did because you now know how much they really love you. They have been through the four-month-sleep regression and survived - and I'm a twin so double respect goes out to my mum and dad! And a particular high five goes out to your own mum as you know how much she has been through and sacrificed (boobs and hips and a few other things).
And finally, probably the most important one…
10. CBeebies is life
You will learn so much from CBeebies you will find yourself watching it when you’re not even with your baby. Hey Duggee is literally the BEST programme in the world. And like I said, you learn so much. The other day from Bing you know what I found out? “You know the rule. If it isn’t a wee, paper or poo. You mustn’t put it down the loo.” Fucking life-changing.
So yeah, it’s been a rollercoaster. Of the highest highs – and at times, some real lows. And I’ve cried – a lot. But it’s been pretty fucking fabulous too.
I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has reached out to offer me their support after my post on Sunday. I have received such encouraging, incredible, heart-felt messages and comments, I can’t put into words how much it has meant. I have also had people open up to me about their own birth trauma, which I have felt deeply moved by. Because I know how hard it is to put into words. I was so nervous and scared about being so honest about my struggles with PTSD but I kept reminding myself that my honesty could help others. If I can help just one person open up – or one person to feel less alone, then it’s all been worth it. I’ve had local media interested in publicising my story– which I’m slightly nervous about as I must admit, since publishing the post I have also felt quite overwhelmed. You keep something in so long and then to so publicly announce it, I’ve had wobbly moments. But if writing this blog has taught me anything – it’s that I am not alone. And it’s been good for the soul as they say. From day 1 of writing my first post, to week 16 deep in the four-month sleep regression, to the weeks of nap stress and no sleep (we’ve had some rough nights this week), to last week – when I spoke about my birth trauma. It’s been good to know that I’m not alone – and there are other people out there who have one eyebrow and look like the bird lady from Home Alone 2. And also, most importantly, what I write gives people reassurance, comfort, a bit of courage – and a laugh (hopefully). I’ll be doing a little post on Sunday to mark Rafe’s 1st birthday. HOW IS RAFE ONE ON SATURDAY?!! Then back to the ‘normal’ so to speak with the blog posts. I will of course touch on what I wrote about on Sunday and I no doubt will also be talking in depth about the child who DOES NOT SLEEP. (He's cute though isn't he? ❤) Thank you again for all your messages and comments – means the absolute world. And if I do end up in any newspaper articles – I promise to try and at least comb my eyebrow.
Royal Marine Wife. Mum to Rafe.