Its not the you that holds you back …… part three of a few parts

The first part is here, the second part is here ….  if you wish to catch up on the “story”  ….

At some point between 10 June and the 19 August, I realised that I just did not feel like my friends or the other people I knew who had babies.

Moms I knew were happy, and thrilled with being moms.   They always seemed to be just so damn happy all of the time.  And shiny.

This was the exact opposite of how I felt.

Everyone I told would tell me it was a phase, and I was just tired – would pat my hand kindly and then offer to make tea.  Telling me it was normal, and not really listening to what I needed to say, I think was the part where I learnt it is best to be quiet in these issues.

I had all these thoughts in my head that needed to get out.

I felt terrible for being such a terrible mother, and why did I not feel the same as all the happy shiny moms that I saw all around me.

What was wrong with me?

I wanted to start writing my thoughts down.  Then I got caught up in buying just the right journal and just the right pen, with just the right ink flow —– and I did not get to writing.

Because the details was where I got stuck.

At some point I recalled that there was something called blogging.

I had never read a blog, did not really know who blogged, and how to blog —- and based on that I went along to wordpress, and registered my blog, and then stared at the screen and waited for my epiphany.

It never really came, and I just started to write – here is my first blog post:

 

Pee on a Stick why don’t you?

 

For those who don’t know me, it’s okay, I often wake up at night wondering if I know myself.

I do often wonder how I managed to get myself into this position – the position of being mom to three children.

When the number one issue is that I don’t actually like children (sure I like my own now, but I never played with dolls, and really tend to cringe back in terror when a young snotty happy faced short person runs towards me), and more importantly number two, I was very sure that I never wanted children.

My partner – Kennith – wanted children from the get go.

I was very very reluctant and every time we had the conversation would wrap it up by saying “next year” knowing full well that next year was not going to be coming.

Six years into our relationship we had reached a cross-roads/an impasse and I fell pregnant with our first child when I was 28.  It was a totally planned endeavour.  This did not stop me sitting in the bath and crying like a knocked up 15 year old.

I do wish to place some blame on our friends Mike and Anita (names have not been changed to protect the innocent) – as they had exposed us to their child and it all seemed like such a jolly good idea from our vantage point.

I’ve never told them that they are to blame (if only partly), so hopefully they suffer sufficient guilt to bring me something great from the U2 concert that they are travelling overseas to go and see.

So there I was 28, unmarried, pregnant and frightened beyond measure …..

 

I wanted to chronicle my journey through motherhood.

Not because I wanted treasured moments put down.  Recorded for my children to come and read later.  Nope, that is not how I was rolling.  I wrote to {try to} understand the way I was thinking and the way I was feeling.

My head was too busy and too chaotic for me to work through my thoughts and come out with a solution.

I thought I would start at the beginning, and like all things I got bogged down in the detail.

I got stuck in where to start and how to get it all down —- I felt I needed to go back to 2001 and write from there to now, but that was tiresome and the problem was I could not remember everything in the detail I felt it in my heart.

Then I stopped writing.

its not the you

The art of drowning ……….. part two of the story

I gave a talk recently and left writing or preparing anything until the night before, and then I sat bleary eyed cobbling some thoughts together.  I used a bit of this “looking at my journey with Reluctant Mom” so I am sharing it with you here.

Looking back over a few years of Reluctant Mom ….. part two

The first part is here if you wish to catch up on the “story”  …. and this is the follow on to that piece.

————————————————————–

The art of drowning ……

My daughter suckled non-stop.

I became adept at doing everything whilst she fed.  I could not put her down as she would immediately spring awake and start to SCREAM. Not meow like a newborn, but scream like a maniac.

She showed every symptom of colic, without actually having colic.

She screamed non-stop and only stopped if she was feeding, or being rocked to sleep.  If one more person looked at her screaming and said “are you sure you have fed her enough” I was seriously going to stab someone in the head with a squirrel.

I learnt to sleep sitting up straight in bed whilst doing this mad rocking motion to just get her to sleep.

I rocked her whilst I sat on the toilet, I rocked her when I was working on my computer.

I rocked her whilst doing everything.

I was always feeding her, which though is supported by various breast feeding organisations it is hell on your nipples, and leaves very little time for niceties like napping, showering or teeth brushing.

I was a mess — I had visions of taking my daughter, my sweet gorgeous daughter and throwing her across the room.

I knew it would be very bad – but I fantasised about the few moments of peace I would have whilst she flew though the air.  Before she hit the wall.

I know I sound flippant about it now – but the thoughts of how to get her to be quiet and the absolute lack of sleep, and trying to juggle a house and two other children were draining to say the least.

I used to think about it —- and often.

Then I took myself along to a psychiatrist for a little chat and a script.  I wasn’t coping.  I was giving a semblance of coping, but the reality is that I was not coping.

I felt quite devastated that I just could not get this motherhood thing right.

I realised that this having babies was seriously hard work.  NO matter how much you prepared.  NO matter how much you thought you knew it all or read, you actually do not know how it is until you are there.

As a mom I felt that I could not explain to anyone how difficult it was.

How hard this process was, and how I felt like I was dying every day.

Drowning in it all.

Instead of being joyous and excited about life – I was exhausted, frantic and really not enjoying motherhood at all.

I doubted myself and wondered how on earth I could have got myself into this hole with three children, and a fast depleting grasp on sanity.

To be continued ……..

fear-of-drowning-by-starfishyy

Mom breastfeeds dog … yes you read correctly!

{My friend Alice sent this on to me – I think to try to prove that no matter how insane I am, at least I had a few limits, unlike Terri Graham here who really needs a bit of a sit down a chat and a review of her meds.}

Mom breastfeeds dog. Woman claims feeding her pug is ‘comforting’.

Image: via IMGUR

 

 

 

Moms may feel like they’re missing out on a vital part of parenting if they can’t breastfeed their babies, but Terri Graham has an unusual way of dealing with this problem – she breastfeeds her daughter’s pet pug, instead, according to HuffingtonPost.

“I finally feel complete…” {completely rootin tootin freaking insane > Reluctant Mom}

Not only does she do this, but she’s quite happy to share her experiences.

In an interview with Closer Magazine, Terri is quoted as saying that breastfeeding the dog was a positive experience: “Having Spider [the dog] suckle on my boob means I finally feel complete and a better mother,” Graham told the magazine.

In case you’re wondering how she got started with this unusual breastfeeding experience, she says that the dog started to enjoy breast milk after he licked the teat of a bottle of expressed breast milk over two years ago.

She had never been able to breastfeed either of her two children.

It’s not yet clear whether her open attitude will be appreciated by breastfeeding advocates… {or Pugs who feel repulsed at having to suckle in front of their other dog friends …. Spider the Pug’s street cred has gone for a ball of shite}

What do you think about the breastfeeding pug?

Reluctant Mom >  I am trying to understand how this particular picture goes.  You naked, the pug on the bed, you thinking hey, what would happen if I put my breast in his mouth …….. on the other hand I am hoping it has stopped at breastfeeding alone, but …. actually now I am feeling a bit more ill than I was before.

Article source:

http://www.parent24.com/Baby/care_nutrition/Mom-breastfeeds-dog-20121018

Shape of a Mother ….

I found this great website called the Shape of a Mother.  It’s my private little addiction.  I pop along to this site and read the blog updates and look at the images.

The idea of it is that the author/owner of the blog noticed a mom with a babe, and when the mom’s shirt lifted by accident she realized this very healthy and toned looking mom also was sitting with extra skin hanging around her belly.  Yes, I realise it could also have been me – you probably thought the same thing.

The blog owner had this epiphany that the post-pregnancy body has become one of our society’s greatest secrets.

What we are exposed to is the female form airbrushed perfectly.  I used to work for the company that did the pre-press work on Shape, Fit Pregnancy and Swimsuit Magazine – all those girls were airbrushed to an inch of her life.

I would have loved to nab the pre-air-brushed photos and smuggle them out there for the world to see.  I am not denying that the models are beautiful and can really fill out a swimsuit, but you must know they have pimples, and stretch marks and cellulite and marks under their arms like no one’s business.

If you look at yourself in the mirror and it differs from these images that we are bombarded with all day – you tend to opt to wear a bigger shirt, start layering a little more, and hide your body as much as you can. Well that is what I do at any rate.

We talk openly about our sagging or flattened boobs, our wobbly thighs, our expanses of cellulite, our hanging tums and our stretch marks, but god-forbid anyone sees them.

So this very clever woman created this excellent website where women of all ages, shapes, sizes and nationalities can share images of their bodies so it will no longer be secret.   Almost like a blog, but populated by visitors.

To quote directly from her website: “So we can finally see what women really look like sans airbrushes and plastic surgery.

I think it would be nothing short of amazing if a few of our hearts are healed, or if we begin to cherish our new bodies which have done so much for the human race. What if the next generation grows up knowing how normal our bodies are? How truly awesome would that be?”

http://theshapeofamother.com/ even has categories marked Belly, Breasts, Cesareans, Child Loss, Infertility, Inspirational, Plus-Sized, Postpartum, Pregnant, Twins, Triplets and VBAC.

It really is a wonderful website and the women are real, and we recognize these bodies as our own.  Women write in honest terms about how their bodies have changed, and the photos are taken sans great lighting and often without good photographic techniques, so it is real flab, butt-cracks and cellulite.

While I celebrate these women, and nod along to all the comments, I can barely look at myself in the bathroom mirror when I get undressed to shower or bath.

When I sit in the bath with Isabelle, I feel ill that my stomach sort of rolls over and rests itself on my upper thigh while I play with her.

Last night I looked down at my c-section scar and got a bit of a fright as it looked big and really red and ugly –  but I was drinking a glass of wine, and there was a candle, so the lighting and my perception was a bit off.  But I had this immediate feeling of revulsion and sat up in a panic to re-examine it.  It was still a scar, still red, yugh, but maybe not totally revolting, okay well maybe just mildly so.

I used to be okay with my body – I was not out there pole dancing or anything, but I would put on a costume when it was hot, and go for a swim.   I would not scream “look at me, look at me” but I could get myself in a swimsuit and a pair or shorts when the weather demanded it.

Now I crinch at the thought of pouring myself into my swimsuit, even when at home just with Kennith and the kids.  It is not about them seeing me, it is about me seeing me.

I hide from myself.  I dress and undress quickly, so I do not have to witness the white blubbery me. I hate the fact that I used to weight 50kg, and used to hate being skinny.  Now I would drink 5 days of gloop a day, and 7 tons of laxatives to get back to 50kg.

My body is different and I really do not like it.

I know I should be thankful that this body has been good to me.  It is seldom sick, it can stand up to quite a bit.  It carried three healthy children through three healthy pregnancies.  It was strong enough to get through three c-sections, it healed well, and did not let me stay in too much pain.

It let me breastfeed without any problems.  When I did not want to breastfeed it made the milk just go away.  It let me get through bouts of depression without totally giving out on me.  My skin has stretched to make room for these children and the growing me, and it has done it with eloquence and grace, and done me the favour of doing it without one stretch mark (I know, I am shocked too).

I should laud it and praise it, instead I despise it.

I am embarrassed.

I am angry.

I am scared that this is now who I am.  What I see in the mirror does not match who I see in my head.

I have contributed to it’s demise.  It did not get here without the help of a several bowls of delicious pasta, bags of divine Woolworths Chuckles and several litres of wonderful wine.  I am the reason this body is the way it is, and that makes me very angry.

I huff and puff my way through boot camp and hate being there.  Every gasp and gag is fueled by anger.  I do not want to be this fat, cellulite, scarred person – I want to be svelt and 20 years old (but I would like to keep my mature mind …)

There I am flicking through these images of women being real on shape of a mother, and still I am hiding behind my baggy black shirt.  Why does this bother me more today than it did yesterday?

Today I am trying on wedding dresses in front of strangers.  That means my body is going to be on display – as you cannot get into these dresses without help.  That means I am going to be trying to corset myself up into a dress that is going to make my fat roll over the top and my hips putting a bit of strain on the stitching.

Another day, in another place, I can post about who I love my body, or even like it – but not today.

I wish someone had told me …..

… how exhausted you felt once the euphoria of the birth had worn off.

…. how strange your body will feel to you now that it has all this extra padding and Pamela Anderson boobs.

… how difficult breast feeding can be, and how rewarding it can be if you get it right.

…. how much space the pram, the babyseat, the mobiles, the feeding chair, and all the other stuff really take up in your house.

…. how much of an impact this little person has on your relationship and your life.

… how alone you feel at 3am when you feel like you are the only person awake in the entire world.

…. that you are going to cry, and probably a lot – as it is all a bit overwhelming, and you know it is okay to just bawl like a baby with a snotty nose.

…. To start buying packs of nappies in the first month of pregnancy so I could build up a healthy supply – as the cost is exhorbitant.

…. To ignore everything and lie in bed with my tiny baby and have an extra long cuddle instead of rushing around and attending to the house and life.

… that pregnancy is the only time where you can just say “no” to things guilt free, and spend the time just resting – as you are going to need all the energy you can muster to get through those chaotic first three months.

… that trying to claim for UIF benefits through the Department of Labour might well send you into early labour or to jail for killing someone. There are companies that specialize in this (not the killing – though there are – but I am talking about companies that claim benefits on your behalf – try momsuifassist.co.za) , use them and do yourself a favour – you really do not need the aggravation!!

….that you do not have to be “fine” every time someone asks – it is okay to admit you are struggling and it really is hard.

… that the only mom’s who look perfectly turned out with beaming smiles and great hair, are those mom’s who have had two hours of makeup and hair, and the photographer is using soft lighting in the L&L magazines.

… that the woman in many of the pregnancy magazines have been retouched to hide their big blue veins on their boobs and their giant stretch marks on their stomachs. (I used to work at a company that retouched those pictures…)

…. that if you can afford it go for a wonderful photoshoot with your pregnant tummy. You might feel a bit like Orca, but you probably look wonderful and having great photos to remember that time are going to be absolute priceless to you.

… that in one moment you will get so angry with this little baby for keeping you awake and reducing you to a wet blubbering mess, but the very next moment you would lay down your life for this person without any hesitation.

Breastfeeding is …..

I saw part of a programme yesterday on the Home Channel of all channels.  I did not catch the beginning but I got the sense it was interviewing women who just had babies or were about to have babies.  Judging by their accents it was a New Zealand based show.  My favourite insert was when they went around to various women who had babies and asked them to finish the sentence “breastfeeding is…”

I thought I was fitting with my rant yesterday and I decided to quickly compile my own list inspired by these women.  Breastfeeding is ….

… bleeding nipples.

…. wet spots on shirts while you are out for dinner away from your baby.

…. when your breasts no longer become your property and you hand them over to baby and caregivers alike.

…. exhausting.

…. all about waking up in wet pyjama shirts.

….. smelling like slightly old milk for the majority of the day.

…. wearing very unattractive bras with strange “quick release” clips.

…. always wearing shirts with easy access to your nipples – a bit like a vegas showgirl I would imagine.

…. not feeling so concerned about flashing your boob in public now that you have a dependent suckling.

…. watching your baby suckle so hard that she looks like she is going to choke.

…. being worried your baby is not getting enough milk in as you can’t see the measuring thingy on the bottle.

…. having to listen to hours of misguided advice by women who breastfed 25 years ago, and do not realise that the information we have now is probably more than thier doctor had back then.

…. having wonderful caring friends buy you miracle healing nipple cream because you feel your nipple has been scored with a scalpel.

….. convenient so I do not have to measure formula out in the middle of the cold night.

….. wonderful as I can cuddle with my baby and provide something no one else can.

….. incredible as your new born baby is latched on to you while you are in the delivery/operating room – it really is incredible and very memorable.

….. the thing you will miss when you can’t do it anymore!

Contrary to popular belief I actually enjoy breastfeeding, it is uncomfortable and forces you to sit still while you feed when you have 10 other things you need to do.  But it is quite magical when you look down at your baby’s face and see the absolute bliss on her face while she is gorging herself …. the fact that you are losing a few calories in the bargain doesn’t hurt either!

I love this image

Breast is best ….. but fek it is painful.

Connor was an easy baby – I did not realize how easy until I got to number three, who gives new meaning to the phrase “I am going to run away and join the circus and give you to the gypsies” but more on that later.

I felt quite a bit of pressure to breastfeed and get it right the first time round.  It really did look quite divine in the magazines – everyone was so happy and fulfilled when they were doing it.  I wanted to feel fulfilled and divine in soft lighting and chiffon shirts.

I have heard horror stories about what other moms have gone through trying to get their off- spring to latch and suck correctly, so in comparison mine was pretty much plain sailing with few tears of frustration – mine were more tears of pain.

I found that it was frikk’n sore – small point I felt was hidden from me prior to my experience.

I have always been immensely fond of the way pregnancy and birth books never refer to child birth and the related activities as scream-inducing-pain.  Soft non-scary words like uncomfortable, might keep you up at night, a little uneasy are used.  I really think it would be more beneficial to call it what it is.

Breastfeeding, once you have got past that first day or two in hospital, starts to get decidedly painful.

I am not going to comment about how suddenly your breasts are public property and nurses pop by and have a feel, and pull your shirt down and latch the baby.  Any sort of decency you might have exhibited while everyone was looking at your front-bottom while a baby was expelled from there, has long since evaporated as now your hoo-hoo bags are the prime focus of attention.

I am not against a bit of nipple tweaking myself, but not by strange woman in nurses uniforms.  It really is not my thing.

Possibly – I am just putting this out there – my nipples have not been trained in the art of violent sucking and adhesion – this may be a comment on my sex life, but let’s leave that for another day.

I will be the first to admit that I have not had an extensive dating history and maybe I spent too many evenings at home instead of out wildly partying, but the bottom line is my breasts prefer very mild activity – more soothing sort of stuff.

This may be the reason that I was caught quite unawares by the violent sucking-action a latched baby can administer.  You know when this happens once, one can drink a cup of tea or a glass of wine – time of the day dependent – and chuckle about what a surprise that was.

However two or three hours pass and it is time to expose your rather delicate but slightly bruised and now chaffed nipples to some more of that action.

Two or three weeks down the road, it is no longer a laughing matter – you are literally bleeding around your nipple area.  Your nipples are painful and any kind of contact is excruciating  – so the idea of this baby making hard sucking noises does absolute nothing for your sanity at this point.

[I don’t even want to open the door to the option of your partner ever going near them at this point … the idea of anyone ever viewing them as sexual objects really is an affront to my mind who has now converted them into baby-sustaining equipment.]

Damn it really is sore – contrary to popular belief.  I met one of those real earth mothers the other day – bless her – you know the one who wants to be with her baby ALL THE TIME – and breastfeeding was easy and “no it was not painful” and never touched alcohol in any shape or form the entire way through her pregnancy or during breastfeeding.

It did make me feel mildly guilty as I sipped my glass of wine while I was 8 months pregnant – only because she was looking at me in a critical manner.

But I digress, for her there was absolute no pain with breastfeeding ….. now, may be I am doing it wrong.

My baby sucks like an industrial vacuum cleaner and I will need to go home and feed in about two hours and my nipples are already battening down the hatches for the onslaught.

My friend decided to skip it as it made her feel like a lactating sow …. It does make me feel like livestock to a certain degree, but for me, I am sold on the convenience – only because I am so lazy that cleaning and filling bottles seems like really hard work at 2 in the morning.

I do feel it is very important to have some sort of a cut off for breastfeeding.  I think we have all seen the skit in Little Britain where the 40 year old man asks for some “bittie” from his mom … I must confess that when a child can walk up and lift your shirt to get the breast milk, it might be the sign that you should stop.

The thing about breastfeeding is another one of these social pressures where you are meant to be good at it and enjoy it.  There is a shame and embarrassment in “choosing” to formula feed.  <sigh>

I am breastfeeding now, but I have already snuck in a 11am formula feed to give my little boobies a break and also to allow me to skip off to work for some sane time.  I might introduce a 3pm Saturday formula feed too, so I can get an afternoon nap …. let’s see how this works out.

Breastfeeding Cartoon

End of Days

Kennith likes to get his monies worth out of everything.

The fact that we had paid for the full day at our Medi-Clinic meant that I was going to stay there for the full day – none of this going home at 11am nansy-pansy stuff.

After work Kennith arrived to collect me.  I had been sobbing for the last two days and the idea of wrenching me away from my trusty nurses’ buzzer did little to calm my already frayed nerves.

In the car we go and start the drive home, which in a non traffic situation would be about 20 minutes.  The consequences of collecting me late was that now we were trekking home in rush hour traffic on what is a very busy route.

The problem started when I was sitting in the back seat with Connor firmly strapped in his snug and safe (points there for supporting the Arrive Alive campaign).  I looked over at him and it occurred to me that he was dead.  I could not see that he was breathing.  5 minutes with me and my child had clearly not survived.  I sat there in the back seat wondering how long I should let this continue before bringing it to someone’s attention.

Unfortunately with a manic episode one’s concept of the linear time equation gets a bit skewed and minutes seem like hours and visa-versa.  I yanked Connor out of his seat and decided that if I breastfed him, then it would wake him up and if he woke up, then he could not be dead, and then all would be fine.  Kennith is trying to drive and keep this situation as sane as possible.

I eventually get Connor out of his seat, whip my shirt over my head (I do not endorse driving with kids out of a car seat, but this moment I was having a clear break down of anything remotely normal).  My breast exposure resulted in cheers and generally lecherous behavious from the labourers returning from work on the construction truck driving adjacent to us.

I am trying to push my rather inflated breast into Connor’s face and he is so fast asleep that he is not taking any notice.  To my rather frazzled mind, this indicates again how dead he actually is.  Kennith pulls over to the side of the road checks the baby – reassures me baby is fine and carries on driving.   His reassurance calms me for all of 30 seconds and then I start panicking again.

All I can think of is that this baby is near death (notice how the level of death keeps changing for me on this drive.)  I need to get it to a hospital – and how are we going to get to the hospital if the traffic is bumper to bumper.

The other critical issue is that Kennith is wrong and he has now become the enemy to my trying to save the life of my baby.  I am already thinking of how I am going to field questions from people when they ask “how’s the baby” and I have to explain that I could not get him home without killing him.

At this point, I am thinking that when Kennith slows at the robot, I can jump out the car with Connor, rush into oncoming traffic, hop in to an unsuspecting person’s car and ask them to take me to the nearest hospital ER.  All a good plan – just trying to work out my timing and whether I am going to tuck and roll when I eject myself from the motor vehicle.

I am so deep in thought that Kennith’s eff’ing and blinding finally breaks through and I realize that the car is over-heating.  He has to pull over to the side of the road while plumes of steam and smoke are coming out from under the bonnet.

The only thing keeping me from total hysteria is that I am busy hatching my “jump out of the car” plan.  Before I can take my plan to the next level, the Albino character from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movie End of Days appears along side us – this woman was incredible.  She was also incredibly drunk, but I digress.

This guy was straight off the set of End of Days - it was incredible.

This person was straight off the set of End of Days - it was incredible.

As we had blocked her path, she steps to the right, and then proceeds to pull her homeless trolley along the side of our car.  We sat there in the car hearing the high pitched screech of metal on metal.

Kennith flips his switch and moves away from the sanity corner.  He hops out of the car intent on causing severe bodily harm to the homeless person – at some point he realises it is a woman.  In the end he decided that using his super human strength and tossing her trolley to the kurb was the solution.  The situation is clearly past out of control and now we have a drunken bergie person swearing and blinding at us.

Kennith gets back in the car and with a  final eff’it, starts the engine and just drives home totally ignoring the plumes of steam and potential fire under the bonnet.

By the time we get home I am about ready for my shot of Valium, hell it should be administered as a drip at this point.

My mom had made us a wonderful lasagna and salad as our welcome home dinner and I am crying and just want to lie on the bed and cried some more while holding my child like a blubbering idiot.

I am not sure of how happy other people’s home comings have been with their babies, but that was mine!

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