22 January 2018

An Idiot's Guide to Starting Motherhood


Since my last post (make sure and read to catch up), I only blimming well went and had a baby, didn't I!? To say that my life has changed in the most monumental way, would be nothing short of an understatement. I don't think you can ever actually prepare yourself for becoming a parent, no matter how many books you read, or how long you have to get ready. Once it happens, it's nothing short of mind blowing how little you really know. That's how I felt anyway. I frequently look at my son and panic that I'll not be able to keep him happy, or even on a more fundamental level, I'll not be able to keep him alive. The amount of times I have panicked every time I have lifted him up, that I will fall and crush him, is nothing short of insane. Every time he pauses breathing, I have to stop from having a nervous breakdown. Even now, he's playing beside me on his playtime mat, and he has the most brutal hiccups, and part of me can't stop thinking that they aren't just hiccups, they are something more insidious. I mean, on a logical level I know they really are just the hiccups, but the emotional part of me is very loud and she demands to be heard. So, I guess we're going with blind panic rather than rational thought. 

Elijah, one day old.

Elijah is now four months old. For four whole months we have been blessed with this adorable bundle of joy and happiness, who loves cuddles more than anything, who adores his dad bopping his cheeks, and who smiles for everyone except the camera just to annoy me. He is a happy, joyful boy, who is loving learning about the world. He loves studying people's faces and using his hands and mouth to discover everything, and watching him learn is my greatest happiness. I always thought people must be exaggerating when they said that having a child creates a love like no other, but the second he was put in my arms, that feeling of love hit like a tidal wave. A terrifying, overwhelming, awesome tidal wave. I had been very apprehensive of how I would feel after giving birth. I have a long history of depression and anxiety, so I was very aware that I would be more likely to suffer from post-natal depression, but thankfully there have been no signs. I keep a close eye on my mood anyway, if the feelings of negativity arise, I deal with them head on because otherwise I would let them overwhelm me. It's very easy to let the negative feelings take root, because there really are no words for just how overwhelming it is to become a parent. One minute, you only have to make sure you keep yourself alive, the next, there's a tiny human being completely reliant on you, and they're screaming and you don't know why, and holy shit this is terrifying. The moment he smiles though, that single moment is enough to make me feel like I can do this. 

Look at that smile!

Having said that, I wouldn't be able to do this alone. I am very lucky to have the most fabulous fiancé, and a wonderful family to help and support me, I can only imagine how scary it must be for those who have to face it alone. In these four short months, there have been a few things that have made this transition slightly easier, so here are my top tips for how to cope with having to look after a tiny person.

1. Look After Yourself.

Seems a bit counter-productive when you're meant to be looking after someone else, and I'm not suggesting that you ignore your child while you pamper yourself and paint your nails. What I mean is, don't let yourself go by the wayside, make sure that you don't just exist with only one purpose. Particularly, I would say, keep a close eye on your mental wellbeing. Postnatal Depression is far more prevalent than society lets on, and it just makes a difficult job even harder. If you are struggling with your thoughts at all, let someone know. 

2. Take Advantage of Any Help.

My fiancé has been beyond fab, and our families have been wonderful and supportive whilst we've adjusted. Beyond that, we've been incredibly lucky with our midwife and health visitor who have been so helpful and informative. Don't be afraid to ask for help the you need it, I know how much we can want to do everything ourselves, but wearing yourself out only makes everything more difficult. If someone offers to cuddle the baby so you can nap, do it. It doesn't mean you can't cope, it just makes it a little easier.

3. Make Use of the Medical Professionals.

Here in the UK, we're incredibly lucky to have the NHS, and the beyond fabulous human beings in work within it. Like I mentioned before, we have been very lucky with our midwives and our health visitor. They have been helpful, supportive and encouraging. They've never made me feel like I'm asking a stupid question, and have been a wealth of information at every point of the journey. If you are lucky enough to have medical professionals you like and trust, make use of them. 

4. Don't Compare Yourself.

It's hard not to compare yourself to others in a social media heavy society. We are lambasted with images of picture perfect mothers with their perfectly presented children, who have absolutely no puke on them. It's a bit hard to take when you're still in your pyjamas at 4pm, with unwashed hair, puke on your t-shirt, and are in the middle of changing your child's explosive poonami situation that has gone all over their vest. The reality is, those images are only a split second, carefully curated image of a life, so there's no point in feeling bad if you don't look like that. As long as you and the baby are happy and healthy, you're doing just fine. 

5. Prepare Yourself.

Look, there's only so much you can prepare yourself, because parenting is the equivalent of throwing yourself in the deep end of the pool with only a pair of armbands to keep you up and no knowledge if how to swim. It's very much a learn on the job situation, but I found that reading books helped me to get in the right mindset, and they gave me an idea of what was going to happen. The three I found particularly helpful were; How to Grow a Baby and Push It Out: Your no-nonsense guide to pregnancy and birth by Clemmie Cooper, The Positive Birth Book: A new approach to pregnancy, birth and the early weeks. by Milli Hill, and The Happy Birth Book: Your trusted A-Z of pregnancy, birth and the early weeks by Beverley Turner. I know that books aren't everyone's cup of tea, but if you are after as much information as possible, they are a fab source for getting yourself ready. I personally wish I'd been more prepared for Breastfeeding. I knew that it would be difficult initially, but no-one mentioned how much it takes out of you for the first four weeks, or that the cluster feeding to establish your supply is so draining. It wouldn't have changed my mind, but it would've made me mentally prepared, at least. Now, I wouldn't have it any other way, and I love feeding him, but it would've saved some tears at the start! And, of course, if books aren't your thing, ask people who know. Friends and family who've had kids are a wealth of information that they'll be only too happy to share, so don't be afraid to ask, there's no such thing as a stupid question. There are always resources online as well, parenting groups on Facebook for support for breastfeeding, mumsnet, etc. A quick search and you'll find a forum for you. 

The best advice I could give, is to not overthink it. Don't allow yourself to work up into blind panic, it'll just make it harder. Yes, childbirth will hurt like a bitch, yes, parenting is the hardest job in the world, but when you see them, you'll know it is worth it. It is so worth it. 

First smile.

Right, I'll leave it there for now, this has taken 60 years to write and I have a crying child looking to sleep and eat at the same time. I will chat to you all later, and I hope this helps someone! Remember, there's always help if you're struggling, never be afraid to ask. You can keep up with our families shenanigans on Instagram, as I am always on there.

Hope you're all well,

Becca xo

16 October 2017

The Perfect Pregnancy?

*Please note, this was written a good two months ago. At least, I started it then in one of my rare productive periods. I am now no longer pregnant, and am now the proud owner of a beautiful baby boy! Expect a blog post about that in the next year. I mean, I'll aim for sooner, be we all know my limitations.*

When I was younger I used to put a pillow up my t-shirt and waddle around and pretend to be pregnant. Not because I had an overwhelming desire to be pregnant at eight, but because I thought that pregnant women were the most beautiful, fascinating creatures. To me, they were magical. Now that I am actually one of those pregnant creatures, I don't feel beautiful, or fascinating, or even magical. I think my body is doing something miraculous, sometimes I'll just stare down at my stomach in utter disbelief that there is a tiny human being growing in there, but I don't feel particularly miraculous. I feel tired. So tired. 

It's my own fault for falling into the social media trap, I spend half my life on Instagram and Facebook, so it was very easy for me to fall for the image of social media perfection. It was even easier to make myself feel bad for not being the same as the pictures of perfection that these accounts portray. I have not spent my pregnancy dressed as though I've waltzed off the pages of Vogue; I've spent my pregnancy mildly sweaty, living in leggings, and looking kind of homeless. I have not been an avid yoga attendee; I've been an avid attendee of my bed. I spent the first five months of my pregnancy trying not to throw up and failing miserably, I had a brief month where I felt vaguely energetic, and now I'm just utterly exhausted. My back aches, and my adorable child is definitely sitting on a nerve somewhere because I can't walk for longer than ten minutes without a shooting pain travelling down my right leg. I wanted so, so badly to be one of those pregnant women who just smiles and glides their way through pregnancy; who eats all the right food, does all the right exercise and who doesn't dress like they've just rolled in their closet and thrown on whatever shit actually fits. I, however, have not eaten the right food. I have spent the first five months eating barely anything, and then the rest eating food that I spent the last two years avoiding. The changing body image has been a very difficult thing for me to wrap my head around. I spent over a year and a half losing five stone, which was really fricking hard. Like, really hard. Now, when I look in the mirror, I see my face as it was, my ankles are swollen and I feel desperately unfit because my lungs are being crushed. It's been hard, I won't lie, and it's been a massive adjustment because I had gotten used to liking the way I looked, then slowly, I've watched my body slowly morph back into the body I desperately wanted rid of. It's been a bit of a strain on my confidence and my mental state, but at the same time, I'm utterly, utterly obsessed with my bump. I can't go a day without stroking it, or holding it; hell, I can't even go an hour without touching it. I always hated my stomach, and now it's my favourite thing to hold, it's incredibly odd. It's a bit of a catch-22 situation; as much as I'm a bit devastated that the body I worked so hard for has changed completely, I don't regret the events that have made it change. I think it's important to say; regardless of any negative feelings I might have felt during my pregnancy, I know how lucky I am to have been able to get pregnant and have a safe pregnancy. I might have thrown up a lot, but apart from that, I was pretty blessed.
See what I mean? Belly cupper.  

The main advice I'd give to  anyone expecting is this; don't put pressure on yourself to be like anyone else. You do whatever you want, or need to do. If that means getting up for sunrise yoga classes, fair play to you, you mad woman; if it means eating an entire tub of ice-cream, more power to you. You are the one who is pregnant, you look after yourself however you see fit. Obviously, some semblance of a healthy approach is ideal and you should look after yourself the best you can, but don't put pressure on yourself to live off kale salad and smoothies, mostly because kale is horrific. I read so many pregnancy books and had such high expectations for how I wanted my pregnancy to go, but you really can't micro-manage your body, whatever your body wants to do, it will do. You can make life easier for yourself, but you aren't going to be able to completely change how your body reacts. I spent the first five months trying everything to get rid of my sickness, and while some things helped, the nausea was not to be defeated. I desperately wanted to be more like the women on Instagram who seemed to flourish and thrive in pregnancy, and look completely fabulous, but I have slowly come to terms that I just don't have that in me. And that's fine, it might not be what I wanted initially, but once I realised that it's not reasonable to expect to be like that all the time, I was happier for it. If you spend 95% of your time looking like leggings are the only thing you have in your wardrobe, and the other 5% looking put together, then you're doing well. Every time I actually manage to make an effort I feel like I deserve a medal, which just makes it more special. 
Besides, we may as well all get used to never looking put together again, babies have zero tolerance for nice outfits. All it means to them is they have a better looking target to spit and poo on!

I'll leave it there, and I'll hopefully chat to you soon. If you fancy keeping up with my craic, I'm on Instagram forever, which you can find the link for on the side or here, or on Facebook, which is linked here. I imagine they'll soon be filled with baby pictures because that's just the kind of person I am.
Hope you're all well,

Becca xo

UPDATE: since writing this post, I have had a lil baby boy, spoiler alert, he's perfect.
The best thing that's ever happened to me. Or Elijah for short.

Motherhood, films, beauty, and life





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