Mid Life Crisis

This seems to be a bit of a rambley piece but its weighing on my mind a lot lately.

It seems a bit redundant to have a mid life crisis at the grand old age of 22. I could potentially go ahead and decide that its a quarter life crisis, thus giving me an extra 44 years to play with in the hopes of getting it somewhat right, but for dramatic effect (my ex-drama student self loving it, of course), we’ll stick with mid life crisis. 

I’m half way through my maternity leave, my baby is 12 weeks old and I’ve started looking into going back to work. Started looking into who will be minding my baby while I deal with the day to day things my job offers me (and I’ve even heard legend of uninterrupted cups of coffee! With a biscuit!). I never doubted that I would be going back to work after having him, it wasn’t something that entered my head while pregnant, that I’d become a stay at home mammy. My own mother did it after having my youngest brother for three years, so I do have memories of having Mammy at home from the age of five to eight or so. But it isn’t something that appealed to me. Having taken a basically extended maternity leave as it is, having been signed off work from 22 weeks, by the time I was en route to the labour ward I was chomping at the bit to get back to work. And facing into six months off, to get to know the tiny tyrant and to recover from his creation process. Not exactly the mixture I was hoping for. This makes me sound like a work-crazy fiend, I’m not, I just don’t deal very well with staring at the walls of the house all day. My job is something I’m good at, not something I wish to do for the rest of my days, but for the most part is something I enjoy. 

I fear the Mammy hormones, and the money matters, have kicked in, and made me doubt everything. I like to have well laid out plans (not that they get stuck to) to work with, a framework to bounce off of in my day to day life. It is for this reason that in final year of college I decided to become an accountant, and scored an interview with the partners of one of the “Big Four” finance companies. They were offering me a five year plan and I was jumping at it, despite the fact that I abhorred accounting, had stopped doing it after Junior Cert and still am bitter about it being the one test I failed in school barring Higher Level Maths (damn you Profit and Loss account). None of this seemed to matter to me, as long as they gave me my lovely five year plan and it was all set out. Jesus, what was I thinking. I did of course receive the rather lovely PFO letter from them once they realised how not made out for a career in auditing I was in interview, and for that, I am truly thankful. However, this did leave me without a five year plan, and I ambled on anyway and wound up to where I am today, working in the same job for the last year and a half in something that wasn’t my field of study in college. This all seemed fine and dandy until I’ve had time off to think, and now have to assess what my next move is, and honestly, what my next five year plan is aiming towards. It’s now not all about me anymore, I don’t have the freedoms of being able to up and leave a job and hope for the best. I’ve got rent and bills to pay, nappies and formula to buy, and to fund all of this while still making sure that I am the one E is calling “Mama”, not a childminder. It’s giving me a serious case of the Mammy Guilts and I’ve not even left the room he’s in yet. If I’m leaving him I want it to be for something that I love, or at least, will want to leave the house to do it in the morning. Unfortunately it seems that my degree isn’t much use for me there, unless I go back and top it up. I’m eligible for graduate schemes, much like my lovely five year plan for becoming an accountant, but given the feedback from others who have pursued them, it is unlikely that I will be able to devote the long hours and dedication to the role in order to succeed when he is this young, without complete neglect of the Mammy duties. 

And so I am faced with a crisis, which would likely be solved by a lovely lotto win or a rich benefactor deciding to make me their pet project. Understandably, this is a crisis which I’m likely better off having at 22 than 44, because I’m still at the very very start of my career. That opinion piece by Kirstie Allsopp two weeks ago, about how we should be having our babies younger and then going back for the career got me thinking. Yes, it is fantastic that when my baby goes to school in four/five years time I will still be in my late twenties and able to start picking up on proper career work, and that by the time I turn 40, he will hopefully be heading off to college. However, I don’t think she’s being realistic about how much more of a struggle it is to get established while balancing everything else with your career. My mam was an absolute hero and went back to study when my littlest brother started school (he’s just finished his Leaving Cert today), and for years worked and studied by night as well as minding us, her three kids under the age of 10. Until I went through university myself, I never realised how much of a struggle it must have been to be that dedicated to studying while everything else was going on at the same time. It was done with a lot of support from family members, but still, the dedication required is something I’m not sure Kirstie takes into account in her piece. Last time I checked, “My three year old was up all night crying so its not completed” doesn’t get you bonus marks in any college essay. 

I need to decide what to do with my life all over again. With everything else balanced in. Wish me luck…

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The Power of Music

I never really gave much stock to the playing music to them in the womb thing. Sure, I tried it, didn’t really get much of a response at all to any music, barring a night when 8 months pregnant, stood fairly close to the DJ booth in a packed nightclub, with baba going mental to some song that was in the charts at the time. So I didn’t quite go full hung ho into the playing Mozart to E in the womb, in the hopes of him attaining 625 points the second he got into secondary school. He listened to what I listened to, which seemed to be mixture of sappy love songs, pop songs from the 90s and some Dubstep when his daddy decided that was what he should be exposed to from day one.

When he got here things were a bit different. He screamed at any U2 song until it was turned off. Lana Del Ray was my champion in the early days for calming him and putting him to sleep, with Robbie Williams vying for that same top spot. Both artists I would have listened to a bit when pregnant but not excessively. So far, so normal.

In the last two weeks, E has been on another one of his “wonder weeks”, which apparently means he can be an absolute brat and I’m not allowed be grumpy about it, because he’s learning and expanding. And learning to be a total head wreck. He’s not a major fan of being out of my arms and not even the sling is sufficing much of the time. On top of this, we’ve had a heatwave ( hello lovely Leaving Cert weather!), which any other year would mean my factor 50 slathered self would be in a beer garden/back garden after work with a glass of wine chilling out, but this year means having arguments with parasols, draping white light fabric over half of the buggy, and dealing with a grumpy warm baby who isn’t eating like normal due to the heat, and burning to a crisp myself in the process. It’s been a fun household to live in…

Three nights ago, E goes off on one. Screeches the place down, won’t feed, clean nappy, just seems to be screaming for no reason. I stick on Spotify, on comes John Legend’s “All of Me”, a song I listened to quite a bit when I was in very late pregnancy and stuck in hospital. It had been used on Grey’s Anatomy, I’d found it online and got hooked (in truly hipster form, weeks before it became a massive hit here). E was asleep before the first verse was over. I’d think it was a coincidence if the same thing hadn’t happened yesterday. This song seems to have a completely calming effect on him, especially when I sing along, which is fantastic. I think its interesting that he potentially would link it to his last days in the womb and calm down quickly with it, it gives stock to the argument that they are affected by what they can hear. Regardless, its a lovely song, and fairly fitting.

All of Me, loves all of you, all your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections. Give your all to me, I’ll give my all to you, You’re my end and my beginning, even when I lose I’m winning, cos I give you all of me.. and you give me all of you”.

Long may the calming effect last. I’m trying to recall anything else that I may have listened to half as obsessively while he was in there, for fear that this will start to wear off.

Also starting to think that Mozart may have been a good idea after all…

Has anyone else found this, that music you listened to while pregnant is recognised by baby?

Summer Days!

Summer has finally hit Cork. This is noted by the lobster shade my shoulders and chest have taken on, thanks to my great thinking of leaving the suncream in the wrong bag. Not advisable, especially when you have a tiny tyrant who likes to attack with his tiny claws!

But yesterday was beautiful. One of those gorgeous blue sky days. Everything was good – we had even gotten some sleep! And so off to the park we trekked. Fitzgerald Park was recently reopened after being done up, with the addition of the Sky Garden in there. They’ve done a nice job of it, even if the main piece didn’t strike me as particularly wonderful, but maybe I just didn’t get it. 

Theres a gorgeous seating area overlooking the river that is covered over, which proved perfect for feeding little man, though the school group of ten year olds stampeding onto it did disturb a little bit. They were everywhere! Since it was such a gorgeous day, it seemed that the whole world had the same idea of grabbing their lunch at the Natural Food Bakery cafe in the park, and eating it outside – the queue was a mile long, which is great to see for a newly set up branch. We didn’t get to stay for lunch as E became rather fussy and it was easier to just keep heading on back towards town. From there we searched for something which would take the place of the stupid parasol which was not doing the job I bought it to do at all. Again it seems I was late to that party as everywhere seemed to be out of suitable covers for our travel system, but after seeing my distress on twitter, the lovely  Bumbles of Rice recommended the ShadeaBabe cover, so I think a trip to Mahon Point to Mothercare is in order. (And a sneaky trip to Starbucks while out there, oh the novelty). 

 

Long may this weather last (though I’ll be better about the suncream next time, I promise!).Image

Strongly Worded Letter to the 8 week vaccinations

Dear Vaccinations against horrible diseases I would never wish my son to get,

You are horrible folk. Yes I understand your intentions are noble. You wish to rid my son of the chance to get diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, hepatitis B and HiB, and then some. I appreciate this intent, truly, those are rather horrible illnesses to get and I’m plenty sure that his standard of living is for the better to not experience them. 

All of that nobleness aside, I wish ye would take a running jump. In one fell swoop I got rid of my lovely child who seemed to have developed a pattern in which he slept at night, in his own crib, easily falling back asleep, to be replaced by a demon child, but I also became, in his eyes at least, the worst mother in the whole wide world. Not only did I allow that woman in the white top to stick that horrible painful needle into his left leg, I turned him around and allowed her to do the same into his right leg, despite his very clear screams of anguish, pain and “Mammy, what in gods name did I ever do to you?”. A traumatic experience on all counts, even to the doctor, who attempted to convince the crying child that it was indeed the nurse, and not her, who had performed the evil deed. 

That lovely, sleeping child, well you’ve ruined him. We had a routine, damn you. He was sleeping, and self soothing, the whole damn kit and caboodle. Not for the whole night, I grant you, but he did naps, and then big long sleeps and he’d lie by himself and put himself back to sleep. Not only that but he was eating like he was going to be starved if he stopped, and therefore gaining weight steadily, which for the tiny scut that he is was a big achievement. After his encounter with you lot? Nada. Eating is just too much effort, barring one feed a day where he inhales about two feeds full in half the time, instead of half a feed in double the time. Sleep? While we’re somewhat managing a semblance of a routine again, over a week later, we’ve now developed a new routine – it involves being awake a lot when its dark outside. Again dear vaccines, damn you to hell. He also seems to have developed oral thrush from his immune system being attacked – whether this is your fault or not hasn’t been determined, but I blame you regardless.

I’m not anti-vaccine per say. I’m not one of those who worries that their kid will become autistic, or get some other disorder from the vaccines. I believe that it is the duty of parents to vaccinate in order to not only protect their kids from getting infected but also to protect other kids from being infected by their child, when those other kids aren’t old enough to be vaccinated yet. 

But you messed up our routine, and my sleep patterns, and my lovely, sedate, happy child. 

And for that, I glare at you, curse you and give out. And vow to send him to his grandparents after the next lot. 

Kind Regards,

A very tired Mammy. 

 

The Road to “Yummy Mummy”

I’ve never been particularly thin or athletic-built, I was always that girl with the big chest and a few extra pounds, curvy if you will. My weight has gone up and down over the years but I’ve never taken all that many steps to change it. I wasn’t fully happy with how I looked some of the time, but I can say that it wasn’t against massive efforts to combat it. 

Since having E, 11 weeks have passed. I’ve lost most of the weight I gained in pregnancy, but have a bit to go, and quite a bit of toning to do – on top of that, I had weight to lose before I got pregnant so thats piled into the picture too. The old adage of “Nine months to make the baby, nine months to lose the weight” is ringing clear but for whatever reason in my head seems to be a bit too long – I want results now, dammit. In the early days I found myself looking at a fellow Irish bloggers post partum updates and depressing myself because she was stick thin and had her baby later than I had – the weight just seemed to have evaporated, with no major gym action or crash dieting. She was in my head the epitome of “Yummy Mummy” – incredible figure, perfect skin and seeming to manage with TWO kids just fine, no stress. As unhealthy as it is to compare yourself to others, I became transfixed on it temporarily, then realised we have two completely different body types and that theres no point in trying to be something I’m not, as for the stress free parenting thats another story…

However, it does have me wanting to change for the better. Trying to get the motivation up to lose the weight has been something else – not least due to the back injury I gained during mid-pregnancy which is pretty severe, and limits what I can and cannot do. I fear my days of the rowing machine are behind me (probably for the better), but I need to find a suitable substitute. I’m afraid of the 30 day shred, but haven’t ruled it out yet. I’ve got a gym membership with work which I realised last week is not suspended during maternity leave, so now all I needed was a reason to get up and go, and leave E for a bit to “indulge” in some me time and work my ass off. 

So I’ve signed up for the Cork City Womens Mini Marathon. And now that I’ve written it here, I’m accountable to do it, come hell or high water barring something major happening. Its a four mile race, I’ve put myself down as a jogger, which doesn’t seem like a major thing but from my current fitness standpoint it will be an achievement. I’m choosing to view this as a start rather than an end, hopefully.  This can be the start of my road into my old jeans, maybe even a size smaller, though if I make it into my old ones at this point I will be jumping for joy. 

Bring on the shin splints and blisters, and the new fitter me…. any suggestions or tips with this one will be much appreciated. 

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The Booby Bar is Closed for Business

E is 10 and a half weeks old, and for the last week and a half has been completely formula fed (barring one or two times).

Giving up breastfeeding wasn’t something I did lightly, but it appears to be for the better for both me and my little man. He had been screaming in hunger even after full on feeds, and waking up after half an hour starving. After every meal. I was having to supplement him with formula in order to get his weight up anyway, under strict orders. We had just managed to wean him off the nipple shields – rubbery, finicky things which made every feed a million times messier than it should have been – to his initial horror at having to work at this feeding thing. One doctor had turned to me at six weeks post partum and asked why I felt the need to “put myself through it” after my pregnancy, which was a barrel of laughs in itself. And yet it wasn’t until the bar taps started running drier and drier that I considered actually going full time on formula and closing the Booby Bar for business. 

I didn’t find breastfeeding easy – for the first few days it was grand, didn’t see the big deal, until day three or four, when he stopped eating and refused to try feed – even the top up bottles were being ignored, but in particular he had a vendetta against my right boob. He’d eventually latch on to the left one but hell or high water, there was no way he was going near the right one. The hospital’s solution was the shields – which did work, but made him lazy, and dependant on them to feed – he completely gave up caring about going without them. Cue panicked night time feeds where I couldn’t find them, with screaming infant wondering why I won’t feed him and why I’d expect him to attempt the natural way. Not the most fun experience of my life, I can tell you. On top of this, we were told he hadn’t gained any weight in ten days, and then a week later had only gained a very small amount, so supplementing with formula was a must for us. One nurse suggested two ounces after every feed. We were barely able to keep him awake to feed for more than 15 minutes as it was – that wasn’t really realistic.  I tried pumping, using electric and manual pumps. Had porridge oats for breakfast every single morning and tried the fennel tea and fenugreek supplements. All the while, my brain was telling me it would be easier on him and me to just make the switch, but the mammy guilt complex kicked in. I would be a terrible mother if I gave up now, sure everybody else can do it, why couldn’t I? The sheer amount of tears about the issue, mine and his, is mind boggling, especially as this is coming from the girl who had approached breastfeeding (and a lot of parenting things really) with a “Sure I’ll try it and see what happens, no big deal” attitude. Now when it came to giving it up there had been a shift in my view – and not an altogether healthy one. 

So, nine weeks in and little man isn’t sleeping properly for us, he’s waking up every hour and a half and I’m wrecked. This sleep when the baby is sleeping thing is a load of crap, when your baby will only sleep when you’re pushing him around in the buggy during the day, and only in tiny stints at night time. I went home for a week and got minded by my own Mammy. Keeping the promise to the health nurse down here that I’d get him weighed at home, we tottered along to the clinic to celebrate a massive weight gain (we had been upping his amount of formula at this point to after nearly every bottle upon health nurses advice), and happened to discuss with her that I was thinking of giving it up and going on formula full time. She asked me about my pregnancy, and about my milk and how he fed, and then told me that it was likely that he wasn’t getting the fat content he needed from my milk, potentially related to the medication I was on in pregnancy and after the birth. This is something I’d asked the doctors already and had been told no, to keep trying and just feed him more often. She congratulated me on my nine weeks of feeding him, and advised that I was likely doing the right thing. This is exactly the approach that I needed, since I’d basically already made up my mind and didn’t need to be made feel more guilty about it. It was in almost direct opposition to the paeds doctor we’d seen a few weeks earlier, who used the phrase ” one or two bottles won’t do too much harm to him”, as if it was poison I was feeding my gorgeous little man. 

Its been a week and a half, and he’s like a new child. He’s a lot happier, sleeps for longer, and seems to have turned a total corner about sleeping in his cot (yay). I’m like a new woman, getting a bit more sleep, not questioning myself about whether or not I’m giving him enough, since I can now see exactly how much he’s taking. I’m also now able to eye up pretty new bras that don’t have to have nursing capabilities – though theres a serious market out there for affordable pretty nursing bras which if I had a fashion design bone in my body I’d be running away with and making my fortune. I can leave the house in clothes that don’t have flaps, or without a vest under my top for easy breastfeeding. I can drink caffeinated coffee guilt free, which is a plus for everyone around me. And I’m able to see my happy little man gaining weight and feeling full and sleeping well, which is the best bit of all. 

I would have liked to be one of those mammies who could keep it up for the full six months, but I don’t feel like I’ve failed at it, I gave it a good try and lasted for a lot longer than I thought I would. The important bit is that he’s healthy, he’s eating enough and that he now has a mammy who isn’t spending her time guilt ridden and wondering why her little man is so unhappy so can spend that time playing with him and getting massive smiles. And really I think thats what matters. 

The War Against Mammy

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My little fella is finally growing into normal, non premature baby, clothes sizes. Which gives us a lot more choice thankfully, because as cute as the tiny dungarees we got in Tesco were, after 8 weeks we were getting a little tired of the same four outfits! I’ve become one of those people who finds it difficult to walk past the baby section in any clothes shop, or Tesco, without picking up a little top, or dungarees, or cardigan (I really need to stop with the super cute cardigans, we are not getting cold enough weather for the gorgeous tiny things I pick up!). In my quest to fill my sons life with the cutest of the cute clothes that now finally fit him, I’ve discovered a prejudice against Mammy. 

I’ve managed to pick up numerous little tops and bibs that go on about how handsome/strong/cool/incredible Daddy is. Daddy is the king of the world as far as his wardrobe is concerned. Which is all well and good, and very cute, but what about the woman who gave 9 months of a troublesome pregnancy and 35 hours of frustration to get him into the world? Where are the “My Mammy is amazing” tshirts, bibs and overalls? Nowhere to be seen. I’ve searched, believe me. Not as a vanity exercise for the most part, though I did feel like equalising the playing field a little, moreso a discovery mission. Not an jota to be seen in any of the shops I’ve looked in (and my wanderings of the city have led me into any and every shop with buggy access). 

Instead, we have a barrage of “My mummy is great” clothes. Mummy. Mum, at a push. God how I hate those words. I’m not Mummy, or Mum. I’m not anything at the moment to be fair, but when we’re talking in the third person to the little man its Mammy, or Mom at a push, and I’m not so happy about Mom. But everything clothing wise rants and raves about how incredible Mummy is, and not a word about Mammy. Mammy who stays up all night with screaming baby, Mammy who struggles through breastfeeding after a c section, Mammy who has fallen in love with tiny gremlin who makes her so wrecked all the time. 

I know these companies are English and thats why, but why are there no Irish lines to be found, for some variety? I’ve googled it, and heres the insult to injury, it corrected my search “Mammy Sleepsuit” to “Mummy Sleepsuit”, thinking I clearly had it wrong, using the Irish google search engine. Apparently you can get them custom made, but I’d rather be able to walk into a shop, in a country where the vast majority of mothers are mam, mammy or ma, and see something I’m wanting to put on my child!

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This Mummy craic in a country of mainly Mammies is simply not on…

 

(Pic at the top is from the Tesco website).