Trying not to raise a brat

Trying not to raise a brat

Anyone that has been following me would know that I struggle with Chloe’s temperament on the daily. From birth she has been quite the handful and it really doesn’t look like it’s slowing any time soon. I guess I’m slightly in denial that I have one of those “spirited” children that are apparently destined to be leaders and change the world. As great as that is and even though I’m thrilled that one day in the future she’s going to move mountains, break barriers and challenge the impossible – I’m slightly terrified that I might be raising a brat.

As a parent you really need to pick your battles, but it’s a fine line between being assertive and rolling over and letting your mini be the boss. I certainly have a mini boss on my hands and I know I am largely to blame for that. Chloe is very sensitive and is not afraid to voice her disapproval…loudly…and frequently! I really do try and hold my ground to show her I’m in charge and that her behaviour is not acceptable but I’m finding a worrying majority of the time I’m loosing the will to fight it and just let her have her way. I’ve tried a few different tactics to try and curb her behaviour;

  • The shouting mum – really not encouraged, it just made her think shouting to get her way was ok.
  • The deaf mum – just ignoring the tantrums and defiance. Again, not really recommended as it just made her think there’s no consequence to her brattiness.
  • The negotiator mum – bribery, pleading and lots of “Chloe, Chloe – listen to mummy…”. Apparently trying to talk a toddler down from a blowup about spilled juice (that the toddler spilt might I add) by telling her it’s ok is simply unacceptable and clearly not ‘ok’ in the world of Chloe.

For the most part I’m a survival mum. I’ll do whatever I need to do to get through the day without completely loosing control of things and most days I feel at some point I’ve failed. I know the “fail” word gets thrown around a lot when it comes to parenthood and it’s usually in the context of “you’re not failing, you’re an awesome mother”, but when each day starts with your toddler screaming at you because you asked her to lay down to put a clean nappy on you can’t help but feel you’ve messed up somewhere along the way. Most of the time I don’t even know what her angst is over and although it has gotten a bit easier with her ability to verbalise, she is often in distress for little or nothing at all.

I have said a few times that I want to tame but not break her spirit. But I tell you, her little attitude has this mama at breaking point. I am well aware that I sometimes resemble the walking dead – blood-shot eyes, whopping blue bags under my eye balls and murmuring gibberish whislt clutching ferociously at anything that resembles coffee. Some might assume that I don’t sleep a lot but truth be told I get more sleep than I probably need. Chloe has been blessed (or we have been) with very good sleeping habits so I assure you I am not tired. I am fucking exhausted! Not from lack of sleep but from battling my childs’ will constantly.

Now I don’t want to make Chloe out to be a total feral monster, she certainly has her adorably sweet moments. They are just few and far between her chaotic and unreasonably irrational moments. To give you a glimpse into a regular day of ours the tantrums usually start first thing over getting dressed or giving her breakfast – Miss Chloe doesn’t like being told what do to and if she doesn’t get what she wants (even if she hasn’t hinted to it – apparently my mind reading abilities are lacking somewhat) exactly when she wants it there is screaming, throwing of anything she can reach, whingeing and more recently – smacking and hitting. This continues relentlessly throughout the day, it can start out of absolutely nowhere and I’m just completely baffled as to how to calm her. Simply saying a gentle ‘no’ can set her off. My first response is generally to get down to her level and speak to her calmly, trying to get her to tell or show me what’s wrong and offering her comfort. But lately I have just been throwing my hands up, groaning under my breath “oh my god, what now?!?!!??!” and leaving her to have her moment. I know this isn’t ideal or helpful but sometimes I am honestly out of ideas and the strength to manage her temperament.

Shopping has become probably the biggest stressor for us. I have had to abort mission from one too many shopping trips as Chloe has been too much to handle and I’ve had to leave before I start throwing myself on the floor in a fit too. I have developed blinders to avoid the scornful looks from other patrons and always keep my sunglasses on hand if I do happen to boil over and start crying before I can get back to the car (side note; crying is my way of releasing frustration). I posted on Instagram not long ago that I have been asking Chloe to help me a lot, being Miss Independent she thrives on getting to take control so throwing things in the trolley or helping cross off the grocery list can successfully keep her content for a short while. But it is still a stuggle of wills to get her to sit in a trolley for longer than 15 minutes and when she does start fussing I generall have to wrap things up pretty quick to avoid the public shame of having to beg my two year old to stop screaming. And of course she turns the charm right up in front of everyone to make me out to look like a total drama queen, flashing everyone a cheeky smile and franitcally waving and yelling ‘Bye Bye Bye BYYYEEEEE’ to the checkout lady as we leave. I swear she puts on her sassy pants just to test me and see how far she can push my buttons before I crack.

I like to think I still have the upper hand being that I am the adult but she absolutley likes to remind me she has me wrapped firmly around her little finger and I am well aware of it! I don’t feel she is old enough to understand timeout and she can barely count to three so I haven’t tried the 1, 2, 3 method yet. I know she is not the worst behaved child around and I am sure (or I hope) her temperament will mellow as she grows but for now I am trying my hardest not to let her turn into a spoilt brat. Some days I feel like I am failing and giving in far too easily but deep down I do know that pushing all those boundaries is all apart of her developing. I may not cope with it as well as I should some times, there isn’t enough coffee and wine available to me some days, but I must remember not to be too hard on myself. I’m doing my best and god knows I love that kid, even if she is the cause of my permanent forehead wrinkle and growing fear of shopping centres. 
 

Butter wouldn’t melt. No no, it sizzles!

 

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Weird things mums get excited about

Weird things mums get excited about

The list of things that change about life after having children is seemingly endless. Your B’s (boobs, bum, bod), your sleep patterns, your relationships, your memory (hot tip; baby brain is a thing and it’s permanent), your hair growth – just about everything changes. But lately I have found myself having a good belly chuckle at some of the things I now get excited about being a mama.

Seeing an episode of Mickey Mouse Club House you haven’t already seen 643 times πŸ“Ί

I know that kids don’t mind when they see repeats but oh my lord, must the same episode be repeated 14 times a day everyday for 3 weeks??!!?! I don’t know who’s more on the edge of their seat as the intro song is nearing its end, Chloe to see her fav mouse and pet dog that doesn’t talk but friend dog that does (yes this perplexes and bothers me so I had to mention it – what’s the go with Goofy and Pluto πŸ€”) or me to see if it’s something other than the episode where they all send Donald a sympathy package coz he has major fomo that everyone else is getting mail but him.

Solid poos (from your children not you, let’s not get too personal) πŸ’©

Yeah it’s gross I know but until you’re a mum you will never understand the emotions around a child’s bowel movements. When not a lot of wipage is required and you know a cute outfit has been salvaged from a potential shit storm you tend to give yourself a little mental high five. It’s such a relief when you don’t have to go through in your mind everything your child has ingested, food or otherwise, in the last 3 days to figure out what the cause of a loose potent stool was. And of course, not getting shit under your nails is always a bit of a fist pump moment too.

New anything that isn’t for your child πŸ›

A large portion of the household finances as a family with young children goes towards said children so when we get an opportunity to spend some of that dosh on something that isn’t for the kids it’s pretty thrilling. It doesn’t even have to be anything fancy, I bought a new peg basket and pegs the other day and the anticipation to put all those new little peggies in their new little unweathered, not frail and falling to pieces peg home was strangely {tragically} satisfying.

Coffee β˜•οΈ

Ok ok, I know a lot of people get excited for coffee but for us mamas it’s next level. I don’t think I really even need to explain it, just coffee. And for the mums that don’t drink coffee, you’re like a mythical unicorn with super human abilities and I am slightly intimidated by your willpower.

The sound of someone else’s screaming toddler in a shopping centre πŸ™‰

So there are a few different emotions that come with this one – a sense of belonging that I’m not the only one with a hyper emotional mini, compassion as I have been there trying to wrangle my child with bribery of treats to be good or empty threats of time out if the shenanigans continue, and a bit of relief that it isn’t my child this time. Pre-child the echos of a inconsolable child would have been my queue to exit the shopping centre but now days it’s like the worrier cry for us mamas to band together and lend a hand, or sympathetic nod at least, to our fellow mama in need. But I secretly give Chloe, and myself, a little pat on the shoulder if we’ve made it through a shopping trip without any tears (from either of us) coz that shit is rare!

Going to work πŸ‘©πŸΌβ€πŸ’»

I need to preface this by saying I love my daughter and love spending time with her, and I don’t think I’m the only part time working mum that feels this way, but I friggen love my work days! For a few days I get to be just me and not mum, well up until pick up time anyway which is generally around witching hour after a full day of playing and learning so super mum mode kicks in to get the monster fed, bathed, put in bed and then prep for the next day all before curling into a heap on the couch to watch a few minutes of TV before crashing out ourselves. Our identity changes when we become parents, like it or not. So a day or two a week we can switch off from being mama into a contributing member of the worlds economy is refreshing. It’s also a mega bonus when you have an amazing work family like I do, always willing to listen to my stories of mum life secretly wishing to never procreate, best form of contraception πŸ‘πŸ»

Hot showers or bathroom breaks sans audience 🚿🚽

I know most people get some pleasure from a lovely hot shower but when it’s for longer than 1 minute and 7 seconds or without a small human pulling the curtain back to ask why you don’t have things hanging where daddy has things hanging or throwing the TV remote and the cat into the water with you then it’s definitely cause for celebration. And toilet time without an audience, or in my case a small human trying to push you off the toilet yelling “my toilet, get off mummy!”, is equally exciting.

Going to bed πŸ›

Yup, we get really excited about bed time. Not just the kids bedtime coz that in itself can be cause for an awkward pelvic thrusting, arms waving, ass shaking jig outside their bedroom door (IF it has worked and the little snot actually stayed in bed and is on the way to dreamland). But some days the thought of crawling into our own bed without a miniature stuck to our side and having anywhere between 3 – 7 hours (depending on the child and if they appreciate the splendor that’s is sleeping – you know, some haven’t quite cottoned on to that yet) uninterrupted slumber is near orgasmic. And who that fuck wants to head out clubbing on a Friday night anymore anyway, gimme a sleeping child and my own cozy bed (and perhaps some sneaky chocolate) and some YouTube catch up before getting some nice peaceful sleep any day over jΓ€ger bombs and slut dropping at loud dirty clubs (gosh, I sound so old!).

And then there’s all the incredible things your children do that leave you in awe that you created such perfection. It’s usually all the firsts – first time they crawl, first tooth, first steps, first word – all the little things that you just can’t wait for but are stupidly excited when they happen then you instantly want time to stop so you can soak it all in before they learn the next exciting thing. The most ironically exciting thing I have found of all the exciting things that come with being a mum is waiting for Chloe to wake up every morning. Even when she has driven me to the edge of my sanity the day before and I know she is even less of a morning person than myself and will probably spend the first hour of being up lying on the lounge room floor wailing that I offered her breakfast (#shitmum), I am still the most excited to pop through her door and see her little face every morning.

What are some of the weirdest things you get excited about as a parent?

I think we’re ready

I think we’re ready

So as it would seem it is baby season! It feels like everyone at the moment is balls deep in cute squishy new baby goodness or up the duff awaiting their new arrival. As Chloe moves into her 2’s (and yes, all the terribleness that comes with it) I’ve been asked more than a handful of times “Soooo, when is the next one?”. So I’m here to declare, I think we’re ready. To be honest as much as I am ready to add another little bebe to our family and a sibling for Chloe (to hopefully balance her out – I can hear all the splutters and amused laughs of seasoned multiple mums reading this) I am actually a bit terrified at the thought of another baby. Not at the thought of growing and birthing another human, for that I am longing and dreaming of. But the thought of having another “spirited”, “strong willed”, “fiercely independent” child scares the shit out of me just a tad.

But even with Chloe squealing at me because I simply offered her breakfast, throwing a cup at me because it wasn’t the red juice, making a scene in the grocery store because they don’t have any free bananas left (fuck Woolies, get your shit together yeah) I will still do it all over again – even if I complain everyday and say I never want to do it again – I would do it 100 times over (well at least once more) because I love her so darn much and want a sibling for her more and more each day.

It took us a few years to get pregnant with Chloe as I have PCOS and with Brett working away back then it was hard to match up my very irregular cycle with him being home so it has me a little nervous that it might take some time again. I remember it being very much the same back then – everyone was getting pregnant, it felt like every other day someone was announcing their pregnancy. And with each announcement I grew more and more envious and sad. I wanted so bad to see those two little pink lines, I could have bought shares with the amount of First Response tests I had purchased. I was on a few different oral medications and my fertility doctor had recommended we start looking at more invasive options if I hadn’t fallen pregnant in another 12 months (we had been trying for nearly 2 years at this point). But then we got so very lucky.

The day we found out I was pregnant was one I won’t forget. Brett had flown in from work and we’d had a argument via text before I got home from work. It was about money, like most of our arguments, and I didn’t even greet him when I got home (I’m a grudge holder). I went straight to the bathroom to test. I didn’t have any crazy symptoms, I just felt different. I can’t even explain how, just different. I have never had regular periods so I wasn’t late or anything but I had been spotting a little which was unusual for me. So off I went to test thinking it would be just like all the other hundreds of negative tests I done previously.

Wait, two lines?! There’s never been two lines before?!

I remember my heart skipping a beat (or 5), not sure if I should contain my excitement in case it was a false positive. I rushed out to Brett sobbing “ummm, I think I’m pregnant?!”. Needless to say I was a bit of a mess, I think because I was in shock. Brett was surprised but apprehensive, not really realising the gravity of the situation. I took a further 4 tests before I actually accepted it was real, after all this time and wishing and praying I was finally pregnant! Scared shitless, but pregnant.

Isn’t it funny, how you want for something so badly but when it comes to fruition it scares the absolute jeebies out of you and you don’t know if you really want it anymore. I don’t know if it’s a normal feeling for other newly expecting mothers but I know for me I was terrified, I instantly had a flash forward of what life might be like with a child. I never could have imagined how it actually turned out but at the time I was instantly struck with the “what if’s”. What if I’m a bad mum, what if the baby never sleeps, what if Brett loses his job and we cant afford to raise a baby, what if the baby drives me totally crazy and I have a 2007 Brit meltdown and shave all my hair off…wait, that’s reality (minus the buzz cut)! Jokes, but its like the instant I fell pregnant I questioned if I had made the right decision, jeez – Chloe is 2 and I still wonder if I made the decision (disclaimer: I love my child, beyond words could describe but lordy she has me questioning my decision to multiply on the daily).

I had a very easy pregnancy, I really genuinely loved being pregnant. I had some nausea up until 12 weeks but nothing some ginger biscuits and sea sickness bands couldn’t ease. And I had some hip pains towards the end whilst sleeping (I still sleep with a pillow between my legs to this day – out of comfort and habit I think). Even the thought of labor doesn’t scare me – I was very lucky to have a quick and relatively trauma free birth (the situation traumatised me but not the actual giving of birth – see my Birth Story blog for the full story). I joke sometimes and say I would be pregnant 100 times over if it weren’t for having to raise 100 children. But it honesty was such a beautiful experience and I am already mourning my last pregnancy (my husband and I are pretty set on only having 2 children) and it hasn’t even begun yet.

I know it will happen eventually, and as people say once you stop letting it consume you and just relax it can happen. We had actually agreed to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves then bam, we were pregnant with Chloe so there might be some truth to this. But I know how extremely lucky we were to conceive naturally the first time around and I can only imagine the struggle and heartache of infertility and I don’t consider myself infertile as I am able to get pregnant so I definitely count my blessing for that. But I still get a little envious when I see so many pregnancy announcements and “welcome to the world” announcements flying around at present. I will always be excited to see those words “we’re expecting!” from others as I know how amazing it was to say them myself but when I see a little baby bump popping on a stranger or when I catch a glimpse a new little bebe in a stroller my ovaries have definitely started aching again. I’ve contemplated sharing my TTC journey but I don’t know if there will be much to share, I don’t know if we are going to have the same painstaking wait we did last time and as I mentioned I don’t think I am considered as infertile – just slightly fertility challenged. But lets just say we are hoping and praying for another little Bambini/Bambino in the near future.

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My kid watches TV, so what?!

My kid watches TV, so what?!

Disclaimer: this is not to lay judgement on others or to provoke an actual debate – it’s purely my perspective and thoughts on the subject. Everyone has a right to their own parenting decisions so do what ever is best for you and your family πŸ’œ

So I have a confession; I let my daughter watch tv and play with my phone occasionally, generally when we are out and about to distract her 😱 So before anyone gets their pitch forks out and forms a mob to come hunt me down please hear me out. 

This is something that seems so taboo these days, it causes so much eye brow raising and judging and it can leave one feeling the greatest sense of mum guilt that you’re doing the wrong thing. But in todays world technology is such a big part of life and I’m sorry to say but in the future it is only going to be more so. So why is it such a big deal if children watch tv and the occasional Peppa Pig on the iPad at a restaurant while their parents finish their hot dinners? 

I remember before I had Chloe I said I would never be one of those parents that shoved an iPad in front of the children at a restaurant or that they would know that my phone is not a toy. Well now that I am a mother I will gladly hand it over to keep Chloe entertained while I finish my meal in peace, because if I didn’t and she sat there and squealed and threw food at the other patrons I’m pretty sure I’d be judged even harsher for having an out of control child 😈

Now I’m not saying I let her watch tv all day long and play with the iPad or my phone when she pleases, it is definitely restricted an appropriate amount. But the tv is always on, it is a habit from when Brett was FIFO, I always have it on for background noise. When Chloe came into the picture I worried that having it on would be too stimulating for her so I would turn it off when she was feeding and would face her away from it in her bouncer when she was awake. Now that she is older it is on all the time still, but she doesn’t watch it. I don’t know if having it on so much desensitised her to it but in all honesty I’d be lucky to keep her distracted with it for more than a few minutes. She has only recently become interested in cartoons so I will put them on in the morning while she eats breakfast to keep her sitting still to eat. Although it doesn’t always work, she is usually up playing with her toys within a few minutes. 

The iPad has been whipped out a few times and she has become a tad bratty when it gets taken away which is my biggest concern about the whole matter. I don’t want her to think it’s a normal thing to have a devise glued to your hand all day, I want her to know it’s a privledge. For the most part she isn’t overly interested in my phone other than watching all her cyber baby buddies on Insta stories and YouTube in the mornings or when prime distraction is required. But this is only every now and then, my phone is generally hidden under a couch cushion throughout the day. Recently I have had to grab for it in doctors waiting rooms and towards the end of the grocery shop to try and get her to keep it together for just a few minutes longer but otherwise it isn’t something I feel needs to be managed with designated timeframes at this point in time. 

I had to question my morals recently when I noticed our daycare frequently mentioning educational videos being utilised on daily reports. I didn’t know daycare facilities used iPads as a learning tool and although I understand the benifits I didn’t think they would be used this early in Chloe’s education (she’s just turned 2). I remember before I was even pregnant my sister had to purchase an iPad for her 6 year old daughter as a part of her school booklist. I was astounded, even slightly enraged. Why on earth would a 6 year old need an iPad for school?! πŸ€·πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ I was 24 at the time and I didn’t even own an iPad. But after discussing it with my sister recently and understanding what they use it for I can appreciate the benifits. Apart from only being used for educational purposes (parental locks are used for certain apps and they are only used during lessons where they are required) it teaches children at an early age the importance of internet safety and empowers them to learn about the technology they will grow up with. 

There really is no avoiding it these days, well you can if you really tried to but technology is everywhere and is only getting more advanced and prominent in our day to day lives. Back when I was 10 years old Instagram didn’t exist, kitchen scales were mechanical not electrical and I’m sure if someone suggested an Apple Watch people would of thought you were crazy for wanting produce around your wrist 🍎 Just imagine how far technology is going to develop when our children are 10, it’s hard to imagine isn’t it. 

As Chloe gets older I imagine I will need to enforce some kind of “screen time” or reward system for being able to watch tv or use an iPad but for right now I’m not going to let myself get into a mummy guilt frenzie for letting her watch too much Disney chanel, lord knows I have enough things filling up my mum guilt cup – you know, if I’m feeding her enough veggies, if I’m letting her play with too many plastic toys or if I’m giving in too quickly to her toddler demands creating a bratty monster. She still has plenty of outside play time and her favourite thing to do at the moment is read (allbeit the same 3 books over again for hours on end πŸ€¦πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ) so I must not be doing too bad at the whole technology balancing act. If anything I need to be more mindful of how much time I spend with my phone in my hand while Chloe is around which isn’t an issue at the moment as my phone has been on silent for 2 years and I usually dig it out from under couch cushions at nap time. I will definitely try and teach her as she grows up that the world behind the screen is a beautiful place but I am also excited to see how technology is going to advance and how it is going to help Chloe develop and learn in the future. 

My Birth Story

My Birth Story

This has been a long time coming but now that we are reaching a point where Chloe is no longer my baby (fuck, I have a two-year old!?!) I think it is finally time to document her birth before it washes away from my memory along with my credit card pin and the ability to operate a clothes iron.

Announcing our pregnancy to the world, feels like a lifetime ago 😭

09/08/2015 – 6:50pm – 37+2 weeks

Brett was away at work (he was FIFO at the time and had only gone back to work a few days earlier) and I had texted my daily wishful text “I hope she is early so you get more time at home with her before you go back to work” but thinking I hadn’t felt anything that would indicate she was in any hurry (or so I thought). I had finished work the week prior and was slowly finishing up my list of ‘things to do before baby arrives’. I had searched Pinterest and watched about 400 hours of YouTube videos on what to pack in my hospital bag and in true triple checker fashion I had pulled the bag apart at least 30 times and repacked to ensure I hadn’t missed any essentials;

Toothpaste – check

Slippers – check

A ridiculous amount of maternity pads that my sister insisted I would need (boy oh boy was she right!) – check and check!

Smudge telling me she could hear the heartbeat 😸

I had finished up my dinner and hobbled off the couch to wash my dishes. I had only just started getting the full term pregnancy foot swelling a few days before and funnily only on my right foot. I hadn’t thought too much of it, it did look my foot was morphing into an elephant’s foot but I figured it was normal. I had even felt some braxton hicks a few days before whilst shopping with my mum but again figured it was normal so it didn’t have me calling my doctor in a panic or anything.

8/8/2015 – two days before giving birth. At least my pedi was on point πŸ‘πŸ»

At the sink I felt a little trickling of water in my trackies – oh shit – I’ve reached the point of pregnancy bladder leakage. I really didn’t think that would be an issue as I had religiously done my pelvic floor exercises twice a day every day after reading of prolapsing in my trusty baby bible “What to expect when you’re expecting”. On my way to change, again not really thinking too much of it (looking back now I really needed to show a little more concern for these little signs – I perhaps was a little too blasΓ¨), I suddenly felt a gushing of water that had me clenching my thighs together and running on tip toes to the bathroom in a pregnant waddley kind of way.

Erm, I don’t think this is wee. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!!!

My heart started beating faster with excitement and fear. Fuck! What do I do?! Surely I’m not that unlucky that my waters would break while Brett was at work!? I knew there was a possibility this would happen but I had foolishly convinced myself that it was an unlikely possibility as every woman and her dog had told me that being my first baby I’d probably go over my due date. Was I ready for this?! Was this really happening?!

I didn’t want to call Brett, I didn’t have the heart to tell him yet as I knew he would panic and beat himself up that he wasn’t home. I didn’t want to call my mum as she would also panic and I figured there was too much potential panicking to be had so I called my level-headed sister – mother of 3, FIFO wife of a 3:3 offshore worker, all round super woman! But apparently also a wine enthusiast as she had already downed a bottle of champers so couldn’t come to my rescue. The hospital I would be delivering at was a 45 minute drive so I didn’t want to risk driving myself and I was now leaking like a waterfall. Thank goodness the Brut hadn’t affected my sisters level head, she instructed me to call the hospital and she would call my parents to head over to my house.

The midwife confirmed my waters had broken and told me to head in. I called Brett and broke the news, he thought I was kidding but reality quickly set in and I could hear the disappointment and panic in his voice. I got online and booked him a flight home (his camp didn’t have internet access so I had to book the flight for him), the earliest I could get was to arrive at 12.10pm the next day. I could feel the lump rising in my throat as I tried to stay calm and stop from crying, please god let him make it in time!

While I waited for my parents to arrive I finished the dishes, made my bed, fed the dog and changed my pants about 3 times. Can I just say the little puddle of water you see on the movies and a cute gasp “oh, I think my waters just broke” is not realistic at all! I think I seriously would have filled a washing machine with the water flowing from my nethers. I checked off my hospital bag list again and grabbed all the last-minute items and sat in the prepared nursery. I looked around at all the pieces I had bought to make the room a home for our baby girl. The little glass jar of every kind of dummy you can buy, a stag head I had painted and mounted to hang all of her headbands and bows, the basket of mink blankets I had washed and pressed my cheek against several times over to feel how beautifully soft they were. It was the last time I would linger in the room wondering what being a mum might feel like.

We arrived at the hospital just before 9pm. My mum had been a ball of nerves the whole way, my dad and I tried to make jokes and keep the mood light. I hadn’t started feeling any contractions and the waters were still coming like Niagara. We made our way to the labor ward and were seated in a waiting room to wait for an exam bed to be ready. We didn’t wait long and I was soon strapped up to a monitor, the butterflies in my stomach were going crazy and I started feeling the urge to poop – I had read this was your body preparing for birth. I was 2cm dilated, her head was low and engaged and my contraction were registering on the monitor but I still wasn’t feeling anything yet. The midwife told me that I wasn’t in active labor but as my waters had broken I would be staying until the baby was born.

They moved me to a pre labor room with 3 other woman patiently awaiting their labor to become “active”. The midwife told me if my labor hadn’t started in 17 hours that they would induce me so I was secretly holding onto hope that it would be a slow progression to give Brett enough time to arrive. Wishful thinking! At 10.30pm they sent my mum home as it was after visiting hours and as I had a way to go there was no point in her waiting around. I was terrified, numb with fear of being alone. Since becoming pregnant I had become a tad obsessed with YouTube labor and delivery videos and I had always found comfort in seeing their partners there supporting them through the entire process. Being totally alone was just not something I had considered, I guess that’s the public system for you though.

The room I was in was full, two women were sleeping soundly and the third woman was visibly uncomfortable pacing around and breathing rhythmically through her contractions. I still wasn’t feeling any of my contractions and decided to try to get some sleep seeing as it was 11.30pm, way past my bedtime. But before I could get comfortable I suddenly felt a wave of pain, it rolled over me within seconds and it hit my like a freight train. I shot out of bed and started pacing, nothing in any of the countless books I’d read or stories I’d been told could stop my head from spinning to concentrate on what I should be doing to manage the pain. The pain overwhelmed me and all I could do was pace around the room, into the toilet, out in the hall way – I just had to keep moving.

* Disclaimer: things are about to get TMI – consider yourself warned.

It all come on so suddenly that I was afraid something was wrong so I called for the midwife. I couldn’t even talk, I think she could just tell I wasn’t coping. She ordered in a shot of morphine and told me to keep breathing as they tried to keep me still enough to give me the shot. I sat in bed clutching the sides of the mattress waiting for the shot to work but then I rushed to the toilet thinking I was about to (mind my vulgarity) shit myself. I went in and out of the bathroom several times hardly able to stay sitting on the toilet from the pain until I finally felt a pop and more of my waters came gushing out. I was just about to push the emergency button in the toilet fearing I might have broken my butt when I got myself standing and projectile vomited everywhere. I cleaned it up as best I could and I knew it was definitely time to call for help again.

The midwife came in looking a little inconvenienced, amongst groans and I managed to get out some kind of strange mid-labor morse code “help – waters – vomit – help!”. She responded with “This is all normal but let’s examine you anyway” as if I was just pulling the piss and she was doubting I would have progressed any further. I remember thinking if I’m not close I don’t think I’ll survive this, the pain was nothing I had ever felt before. I’d like to think I have a high pain tolerance and I had said I would try for a natural birth but if I didn’t feel like I was coping I wouldn’t turn down an epidural. Although I hadn’t mentioned it I’m sure if I could have mustered up the strength I would have screamed “EPIDURAL, NOW!!”

“Wow, 10cm! Time to go to delivery”

At 1.45am they wheeled me up to delivery, all I remember was sobbing “No, I need Brett! My mum! No, no”. I was in a total state of panic. I felt like I was floating outside of my body just watching the chaos. They asked me for my mums mobile number but I just couldn’t concentrate on the numbers. At first I recited my own number to them in my confusion, luckily I had my voicemail set up so they knew I had given them the wrong number. I think I was being naive in thinking there was no way my mum wouldn’t make it in time, I’d seen the movies – it would take ages to push this baby out right?!

The labor ward was busy that night so I only had one midwife in my room, I honestly don’t even remember her name. It is such a whirlwind for here. I remember her trying to give me the gas and air, I took 3 inhales then after a few seconds screaming it hit me and I didn’t like it. It made me feel nauseous and to be honest I just really wasn’t able to concentrate on my breathing so I dropped it knowing she wouldn’t pick it up being the only one there and Chloe was crowning so she couldn’t really leave my crutch area at that point.

“Ok Sami, I really need you to concentrate on your breathing. Keep all that screaming energy for pushing”

I honestly didn’t even realise I was screaming that much but I did apologise between screams after that. I was spiraling and not having someone I knew there to support me or calm me made me spiral so deep that I couldn’t be pulled back. I had the urge to push from the time I had thrown up in the bathroom but I was too scared but I knew it was time now so I stopped fighting it.

“Sami, you’re going to feel the ring of fire. Now I’m going to try to stretch you’re opening”

Whol-y-fuck!!! So if there are any guys reading or women who have not yet experienced childbirth let me just break this down for you – when they say you’re dilated 10cm they are talking about your cervix, not your vagina hole (I know that’s not the politically correct word but let’s just keep it simple for the gentleman). Albeit there is a lot of stretch in the old vaginal opening but imagine passing a watermelon through a regular sized deflated balloon. Ouch, fucking ouch!

“Alright Sami, the head is almost out, just breathe for a minute then we’ll start pushing again”

Two more pushes, a few more screams and at 2.24am August 10th 2015 she was here, all 7.1 pounds 48cm of her. And just like that the pain was gone. I don’t know if it was the adrenaline or my vagina died in that moment but I felt nothing. Just an overwhelming and all-consuming sense of awe of what I had just done, by myself, without any support, without any drugs (minus the little jab of morphine which  I think I had just vomited out) – I did it.

Oh my aching ovaries 😍

I remember saying over and over as the midwife placed Chloe on my chest “My baby, my baby” whilst sobbing. I was still in a state of shock and although I had my baby and I know is was supposed to feel all the feels I wasn’t able to enjoy the beauty that is bringing a life into the world. Of course I felt love for my baby but most of all I felt alone. I cuddled with Chloe just staring at her little face trying to figure out who she looked like while the midwife cleaned up and the doctor stitched my small tear. Again, I didn’t feel any of it – I was physically numb but my mind had started to come to terms with what had just happened and all I wanted to do was cuddle my baby and protect her from everything. I never wanted her to ever feel alone like I had.

At around 2.40am my mum came rushing in expecting me to still be pushing. I just looked at her with tears in my eyes “Look mum, I had a baby!”. I think she was just as socked as I was. After they cleaned Chloe and I up I handed her over to mum for a cuddle and took a shower before heading back to the ward. I remember looking in the mirror at myself in the bathroom and I just cried, I couldn’t believe how this all happened. I never made a birth plan as I was planning on the unexpected (trying to be sensible) but this was far from what I had not expected.

For the rest of the morning my mum stayed with me, we took turns cuddling and sleeping and of course me trying to feed (my feeding story is a whole other story I have already written) then mum left to go get some more sleep at mid morning. At 12.30pm Brett arrived and met his daughter. I felt so sad for him, of everything that had happened I was most devastated about him missing the birth of his first child. I have tears welling as I even think about it now. I felt like their connection might struggle as he was already FIFO and would miss so much but I had wanted that connection of him seeing his daughter born so badly for him. But of course Chloe is a total daddy’s girl so I really didn’t need to worry.

I know there was nothing that went wrong with my birth, in hindsight I am extremely lucky to have had such a beautiful uncomplicated pregnancy and such a quick uncomplicated birthing experience but it was still so far from what I was prepared for. They say you can’t prepare yourself for the birth of your child and the love you feel, but I was so incredibly unprepared for the shock and disconnect I felt from my birth. Although I will still not be making a ‘birth plan’ for my next pregnancy and Brett is no longer working FIFO so unless he is travelling abroad (which is extremely highly unlikely) he has no reason to miss the next one, I will know I have done it before alone and (nearly) completely un-medicated so I’m better prepared for the unexpected and will focus on being present and enjoy the experience (as much as you can enjoy pushing a watermelon out a balloon hole I suppose). And I will be walking around with a bucket between my legs from 35 weeks as I hear the second baby comes even quicker.

Day old Chloe looking not overly phase by the whole ordeal πŸ’œ

Fuck you mum guilt!

Fuck you mum guilt!

Today was probably the toughest parenting moment I have had in the 653 days since becoming a mother. I know I have said this before and I will no doubt say it several times again over my lifetime, but today almost broke me. No, actually – it did break me.

To give a quick (ish) summary of the events I went to meet a friend at IKEA with Chloe and she had a temper tantrum within seconds of getting out of the car as she didn’t want to hold my hand on the road (something I have been gently teaching her we must do when near a road). She was not a fan of that idea and a 20 minute long tantrum ensued. She was beyond the point of no return mid way through the bedding section so I pulled her into a quiet corner to try to calm her down. She wouldn’t, so naturally I had an anxiety attack and started crying uncontrollably as I didn’t know what to do at this point other than smuggle her under my jumper to muffle her relentless screaming and leg it out the fire exit (as Ikea is like the matrix and you need to find the chosen one before they will let you leave). I pulled myself together with the help of my friend (who I am pretty sure I may never have the courage to see again from pure embarrassment) and we trekked a little further only to have Chloe slide off the trolley and start her tirade again.

I could feel eyes on me, not judging me but feeling sorry for me. I was red and puffy from crying, Chloe was throwing herself around like a wild animal and I think they were just waiting for me to snap and run outta there crying. Which of course is exactly what I did. I gave my friend a hug, picked Chloe up whilst still thrashing herself around ferociously as I felt my eyes welling again and started making my way through the crowd trying to deep breath to stop myself from sobbing uncontrollably (breathing didn’t help, I bawled the whole way out – seriously IKEA, you need an emergency exit for these kinds of scenarios). I was absolutely mortified, I had left my sunglasses in the car so there was no way of hiding my tears and I just wanted the ground to swallow me up. It isn’t the first PDE (public display of emotion) I have had but it was definitely the worst.

There were a few other women in the store close by with their children, one had even said as we walked past her earlier “Oh, I’m just glad it isn’t mine this time” referring to Chloe laying kicking the display ovens screaming her face off. As I made my dramatic exit a few of them had said to me as I rushed past “Aw, you’re doing a great job” with empathetic looks which of course was lovely of them and I truly thank them for their understanding and encouragement, but I couldn’t even stop to give them a thankful nod. I just put my head down in shame and moved faster. I even got a bit of pity from a staff member who let me leave through an actual fire exit, I think she knew the face of a defeated toddler mum.

It didn’t get any better after our escape, Chloe screamed the whole way home and I cracked. I screamed so loud I hurt my own ears and threw my drink bottle at the dash in a frenzie resulting in water spilling through the entire front of the car. I had completely lost my cool and was an emotional wreck which only made Chloe worse. She saw that I was out of control so she didn’t feel safe and spiralled even deeper into hysteria along with me. But through all of this I never once took a second to look at what was happening and realise something wasn’t right. I just got angry and let myself tip over the edge.

After a shower while Chloe was napping to clean off all the bleeding mascara and a bit of reflection time (the sound of running water calms me) I thought I should probably call our GP and rule out any illnesses, quietly trying to convince myself that my child wasn’t broken and that I wouldn’t have to avoid IKEA for the rest of my life.  And wouldn’t you know it, double ear infection and bronchilitis! Fuck! Mum guilt set in pretty quick, I cried on the way out of the doctor’s surgery and most of the afternoon. I can’t believe I let myself get so angry at my poor sick babe, I can’t believe I got myself so overwhelmed that I didn’t see that something wasn’t right. I always say Chloe is and always has been an unsettled child but I should have known she was is pain, I should have seen the signs. What kind of mother am I if I can’t even decider normal toddler whining to a horrible double ear infection and a throat infection?! I’m sure all those encouraging mamas in IKEA wouldn’t be cheering me on if they knew what a mum failure I was (queue worlds smallest violin orchestra).

I guess other than a bit of sympathy and reassurance that I’m not the worlds worst mother, all I really wanted from this story share is to show that sometimes us mums tip over that edge we teeter on so often. Sometimes is can be one too many nutritious dinners you slaved over thrown on the floor or the constant droning “muuuuummmm” ringing through your house day in day out – sometimes it all just gets too much and we boil over. But it’s important to remember we are all human, we will all make mistakes and occasionally let ourselves get caught up in the whirlwind of emotions that our children often struggling to control. It doesn’t mean you are the worlds worst mother, mum guilt will most likely wash over you and saturate you with doubt but it will pass. And something that Chloe continues to teach me, your babe will always forgive you because you are their everything.

Anti depressants saved my marriage

Anti depressants saved my marriage

My husband and I have been together since we were quite young, we have lived together since we were 16 and essentially we grew up (in the sense we matured) together. But if you ever met the two of us separately you probably wouldn’t pick us as a couple, we are polar opposites. But opposites attract I suppose.

Brett is the procrastinator and the reserved one, I am more of a “just get it done” gal and although I used to be very quiet and shy I am a lot more outgoing than Brett. So if you have met me then you would know that means Brett is extremely reserved. Although our personalities are very different we have made it through nearly 13 years pretty much unscathed, we bicker and make fun of one another but we are generally pretty solid. Or at least we were until we had Chloe and all the challenges we faced as new parents put a strain on our relationship and nearly broke us.

I didn’t realise how much I was struggling with my own mental health until I eventually crumbled, I was ashamed to admit I was not coping and I was terrified of the disconnection I felt from my daughter and life in general. Brett was FIFO for the first year of Chloe’s life, he even missed her birth as she was early and he was still up North over 2 hours flight away. This definitely made things harder on our relationship, harder for me being alone with Chloe and having to do it all by myself and Brett being away from us and missing so many of Chloe’s milestones and growth in the early days. I didn’t have anyone to lean on and keep me sane, to help me with the hard days and pick me up when I just couldn’t control my emotions and would just lay on the floor crying for hours on end. I would cry hysterically nearly every time I spoke to Brett on the phone and I can only imagine how helpless he would have felt. He would get home for his week off and I would be a ball of emotions to the point he wasn’t able to balance me. I was spiraling and he was barely able to hold on to me.

We have always been able to balance each other’s craziness out. Brett can be highly strung and very anxious, but I can be too. Luckily we are able to bring each other back down to earth most of the time and be the voice of reason for the other. With the addition of a new baby with feeding issues, my heightened emotions and Brett’s growing anxiety of providing for his family and trying to keep me from loosing the plot completely, our relationship took a beating. We were both so anxious most of the time, I would cry a lot (like an annoying amount) and through no lack of trying Brett just didn’t know how to make it better. I felt an overwhelming sense of resentment toward him (bloody crazy new mum hormones) as I felt his life hadn’t changed the same way mine had but it had been tipped upside down – maybe even more so than mine. He had a family to provide for, never ending bills to pay, a wife to keep from jumping in front of a bus (I’m dramatising, obviously) and all whilst working hundreds of kilometers away for a company that in all honesty was a bunch of ass bags (he doesn’t work for them anymore thank goodness!) which was adding to his anxiety massively. I am actually surprised he didn’t pack his bags and start a new life in Timbuktu, I definitely wouldn’t blame him after dealing with all my crazy on top of a toxic work environment.

I eventually sought help for how I was feeling and was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression and was prescribed Citalopram. I was hesitant to start taking the medication with Brett still working away and being the primary carer for Chloe. But I got to the point where I just had to, I couldn’t “just wait for my mood to improve” or for Brett to get home to help make things a little easier. I was about to break so I started taking the pills and within a few weeks my mood stabilised. I was lucky not to suffer any side effects and my head was no longer cloudy. Things were still hard and I still felt like I had a part time husband/baby daddy but I was able to handle all the ups and downs a lot better.

I was finally feeling more centered and starting to enjoy my mothering journey when I finally realised my marriage was suffering. Brett had started working local just before Chloe turned one but he still worked on a roster and was working day and night shift. Although he was now working local he was still overly anxious and I felt like I was constantly walking on egg shells so he wouldn’t get upset or overly stressed. We were fighting more than we ever had and I was scared of the energy Chloe was being subjected to. We obviously wouldn’t fight in front of her but the connection between us was fading and I think Chloe could sense it. At first I thought it was just an adjustment period to shift work but I just felt Brett’s moods were very erratic and his anxiety was boiling over a lot. I was seeing in him a lot of what I had experienced with PND.

After a lot of encouragement Brett went and seen our GP and he was diagnosed with Generalalised Anxiety Disorder and he was also prescribed Citalopram (Disclaimer: Brett has proof read this blog and of course he is ok with me publishing these personal details of our relationship and of our mental health issues – I would never put private details of our lives out there without having his ok). I will not go into too much detail of Brett’s diagnosis as it is not my place to elaborate but as with myself, the medication has been paramount to the stabilising of his mental health and he has also suffered minimal to no side effects. We are both finally having conversations with one another instead of snapping demands at each other and we are a team again. We didn’t realise how disconnected we had been with one another until we were recently in the kitchen having a cuddle together and Chloe got upset as she didn’t know what was going on and thought we were hurting one another. It was cute that she wanted to be included but it was also sad to see her cry and to think in her nearly two years of life she has not seen us being affectionate with each other. It is definitely something we are now putting a focus on to show not only each other that we are still head over heals for one another but to show Chloe how much her mama and dada dig each other.

I am in no way saying our marriage requires medication to work. We are still the same people we always were, if anything we are stronger now than we have ever been but we went through a life changing experience that shook us up a little more than we expected. Having a child changes you as an individual but it can also change the dynamic of your relationship dramatically. Some couples thrive as a team, some need some extra help and I am not ashamed to admit we needed that help. You hear a lot more about mothers suffering PND and PNA but not enough of the issues new fathers can experience. It changes their lives just as much as it changes for us mamas (minus the weak pelvic floor and seeping engorged milk filled feeding bags attached to our chests – but lets be honest, our partners probably appreciate that more than we do >>). 

I have been on Citalopram for just over a year now and it has saved my sanity and quite possibly my marriage. The stigma around anxiety and depression needs to be broken. If feelings of anxiety are overwhelming you or you just aren’t coping with day to day life then it’s nothing to be ashamed of to seek help. Man or women – anxiety and depression doesn’t discriminate and it doesn’t make you weak or inferior to admit you aren’t ok. If medication is needed to get your emotions stablilised then that is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. The feeling of anxiety isn’t something you need to live with – talk to your partner, a friend, your GP – and just know you aren’t alone and help is out there. You just need to ask for it.