Shit Words. Good Intentions.

Friday, 14 September 2018

I know you care. Really, I do. Even though you have a funny way of showing it. Even though you think that buying or paying for things is a way to show love. Or that instead of offering an ear to listen, a shoulder to lean on - you just want to find a solution or things to be fixed. There's no time for emotions. For feelings. You are less interested in hearing about what's going on and would rather just fix whatever is wrong. But I don't need that. I don't want that. Sometimes I wonder how well you truly know me, because if you did, you wouldn't respond the way you do.

I know you are older. That things were different back then. That you just got on with things and didn't have time to wallow and indulge in feelings you had. And parenting wasn't like it is now. You were harder. Well, stricter? I don't know. Less nurturing perhaps. There was such a thing as "spoiling a baby" and your baby was meant to fit into your life rather than the other way around.

So I get that you disapprove of my parenting choices. You don't understand them. And I know the passing comments, the hints, the critique is because you care. Not about Jackson, about me. You're worried it's too much for me. That I'm not sleeping enough. That he's too clingy. And you think it's because of what I'm doing. But really, you have forgotten what its like to be a parent. And you don't know what it's like to follow an attachment style of parenting. Which is fine. You don't have to understand. Being the parent is my job, so I think it's fair enough that I do it how I want to.

What you don't understand is that every dig every comment where you undermine my parenting, they make me not want to reach out. They're stopping me from telling you the truth. You're now getting a watered down, half truth regarding my experience instead of an honest account. Because I can't be bothered. I'm too tired. And I already doubt what I'm doing enough so every snarky thing you say is making me even more unsure. And I get upset. So naturally, I've stopped telling you everything. Because it hurts too much.

I so want your approval. I want to know you think I'm doing a good job. That you can appreciate at least a tiny bit of Jackson's awesomeness is to do with my role as his Mum. But I also know you, and I know that sometimes you're mean. That you don't really understand how hurtful what you're saying can be. That the comments make me roll my eyes and block you out. Honestly, sometimes I don't answer the phone because I don't feel strong enough to let what you say wash over me. And I don't ask after you or pay attention to your problems and health issues because I'm so frustrated. Then I feel shit because I'm missing your appointments or not keeping up with how you're going. But how can you love someone and yet make them feel the way you make me do?

I don't want it to be like this. I love you. Truly. You mean so much to me, but it's easy to forget when I don't feel like I can do anything right. That all my actions are meant with disapproval. But I'm trying to remember. To remember you mean well and have the best intentions despite the shitty delivery. That Jackson and I are the lights in your world and you'd do anything for us. And you are so special to us. You have so much wisdom., so many stories. So I'm trying to change because I know you can't. To appreciate you, despite your words not always being the kindest or most encouraging. To remember all you have been through in your life and that maybe, this is all you know. To take the bad with the good because the good is pretty wonderful.

Oh Mum.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Oh Mum. I have so much to say and yet I don't want to say anything. What could I possibly say. I'm sorry? I hate this? I wish it wasn't so? They're just words and they mean nothing. It's not my fault. You can't help it. We can't help it. It's just what it is, regardless of how much it sucks.

I'm so pleased that we managed to have Jackson while you are still well enough to enjoy him. I'm sorry that it's probably not the grandmother experience you would've always dreamed of. Seeing you cuddle and kiss him is unlike anything else, but I'm sorry you miss out on other things.. Like playing in baths, cooking for him.. Babysitting and sleepovers.

It's so hard saying no to you. Having to pre-empt everything that might go wrong and coming to the conclusion that sometimes it's safer for you to stay put. That we have to hover so that Jackson is safe. That you can't leave your chair without someone to help you. You're so strong willed. Stubborn really. You've always been so independent and seeing you like this... It's heart breaking. I want to say yes. Of course we can go to Samoa! Can Jackson have a sleepover in your room - of course! Yeah let's go to the cafe for lunch! You want to go and see our old camping site? Why not! But every idea of yours comes with a whole lot of obstacles. Will you last the drive? What about going to the bathroom? What if anything happens and we're too far away? How can I look after you AND Jackson when you both need me so much? And then when I mention some of these things, you withdraw. "Oh don't worry, it's okay." "No we have the memories, that's fine." And you go quiet. It's the worst. Because I know how badly you want to do these things, to pretend that everything is fine. To live the way YOU want to, like how you remember you used to.

But the truth is, you can't. We can't. Every time we see you, we're saying goodbye. Not fully, but just to the remnants of who you were. The mum I knew growing up. Who was my absolute biggest supporter. Who never said a bad thing about anyone, and always encouraged my brother and I, regardless of what we were doing. Who took us on crazy adventures, even if she wasn't the most outdoorsy kinda person because she knew we'd love it. Who made a dollar go so far, who sacrificed her wants  and needs to make sure we were well provided for. Who is seriously the best Mum. But that person is slowly disappearing. I mean, you're not. We still see your old self pop up every now and then, but it's easier to start saying goodbye now. It's been nearly five years of this. Watching you deteriorate. To slowly lose your ability to do the most basic of things. To watch you battle the inevitable. To try and support you throughout, and not make you feel like you can't do things but knowing that the reality is, you can't. And as sad as it is to say, "we say goodbye everytime we see you," we have to. Because the truth is you aren't getting better. Every day is worse than the last. It's just how it is.

Today I watched you put on Jackson's sock and I couldn't help that burning in my eyes. The tightening in my chest. The overwhelming sadness that Jackson isn't going to know you like I know you. That he's only seeing a very small glimpse of who you are, and will only remember you as who you are now. And worse. I'm sorry he won't fully know your love. Your ability to make anyone feel like a million bucks. To experience your stubbornness that fuels from you just wanting the best for everyone. But I'm glad that he gets your kisses. Your cuddles. That he is learning your face, your voice, your arms. And mostly that YOU got to meet him as well. So many people don't know their grandparents so I know he is lucky to have you for as long as he does.

I'm sorry if it feels like I've neglected you. If it feels like I'm not around enough. Honestly, that's how I feel. Jackson has steamrolled my life in the best way and the drawback is that I'm missing time with you. Your phone calls go unanswered. Sometimes it will be two weeks before we see you. I know I can't do it all, but I want to because you're worth it. I wish I could see you everyday. I wish that I could take you out. I go to answer the phone but then Jackson cries. I'll hear it ring but quickly turn it off because he's just got to sleep. The weekend rolls around and I'm so tired, I know you want to see us but I have no energy. Because honestly Mum, you're hard work. Wonderful hard work but hard nevertheless. It's hard to hear what you're saying through the slurring. You get muddled and so does your conversation and sometimes I can't keep track. You stand up too quick, sometimes you fall.. And between you and Jackson I can't really manage. But I'm going to try more. I'm going to come and visit. Both of us. It's not so bad. He's getting better in the car. I'm becoming more and more aware that time is fleeting and all we are left with is memories so I want to make sure that all of us have the best ones. And no regrets either.

Oh Mum. I love you so. More than anything. Watching you slowly lose yourself is the worst part of my life, but the only saving grace is that you aren't fully aware of what's happening. I'm glad you can still smile and find the positives in life, without realising the extent of the changes that have taken over you. You're the strongest, funniest and most wonderful woman I know. And brave, so brave. I can only hope to become a smidge of the woman you are, and I will remind Jackson forever how lucky he is to have a Noni like you.

Six And A Half Months

Monday, 2 July 2018

Rob and I realised recently that we don't actually have many photos of the three of us together. We have ones of us with Jackson, and a huge amount of just him, but I think we only have one of the three of us. Which is pretty sad really! Neither of us wanted to look back and not see our little fam in any photos so we decided to treat ourselves to a wee photoshoot at home. Holy, was it worth it? Uh. I think the snaps speak for themselves. My goodness my boys are handsome. What a lucky lady I am.

A very big thank you to Nicole from Nicole Paton Photography  - it ended up being such a fun afternoon and she kept the vibe super relaxed and happy. Connecting with talented NZers is the best!


Making Time For Us.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

If there's one thing that tests a relationship, it's introducing a child into the mix. When it's just been you for awhile, it's hard to know how everything will change when two becomes three. You have your routines. Your way of doing things. You're selfish and indulgent. You do the things you want, you spend time how you please and you don't really need to think about anyone else apart from the two of you.

And then a baby comes along, and priorities change. Sleep is fleeting. Maybe you don't even sleep in the same bed anymore. One of you is at home parenting, the other is working. Maybe both of you are working. You can't just come home and blob, there are responsibilities and your time is no longer your own. Leisurely couch time in front of the TV is a thing of the past and has been swapped with bath and story time.  Nights are spent winding down, feeding in bed, taking turns trying to get your baby to sleep. Mornings are spent with one of you playing, the other quickly showering and with a quick distracted peck (if you're lucky) but often just a "bye babe" as your partner races out the door, your days have started. Days are spent just trying to get things done, with rushing from here to there without any real time to "be."

And "you time" - what even is that? A foreign concept, that's for sure. It is SO hard time find time. For anything. For talking, for intimacy. And I'm not even talking sex (because we all know that's not anyone's first priority and also, just quickly can we talk about how much that first time bloody hurts? Like, my body had definitely not forgiven me for pushing out a near 4kg baby and was not keen for anything else to be in that general area. And we waited nearly 12 weeks! When do you even do it anyway? If we can finally get Jackson to sleep not on us, getting myself to sleep ie. blackout is my first priority). Anyway, when I say intimacy, I'm talking just a good old cuddle and maybe a make out sesh on the couch. If you do find a minute to yourselves, there's always something else that's more important. Well actually, I'm sure Rob would much rather have a kiss rather than do the dishes but (and I don't know if it's just me) I've never been able to relax fully when my mental to-do list is not done. But I've realised something, and that's that I actually need to start making more of an effort.

Everyone says that when you have a baby, they should be the most important person in your life. Of course, they didn't ask to be born. It's your responsibility to give them the best life you can because YOU chose to have them. No one else. But, and you guys know I'm a firm believer of this... A happy mum means a happy child. And more than that, a happy home means a happy family which leads to a happy child. When Mum and Dad, or Mum and Mum, or Dad and Dad aren't happy, when they aren't connected or feel like they aren't on the same page, the balance is off and mood can be low. Instead of tackling problems together, heads butt and tempers rise. Resentment builds up, and parenting becomes this individual journey instead of a team effort.

So this weekend, we went on a date. We only had two hours, but we went to the movies and we took time to ourselves. We contemplated staying home to tidy up the house but decided we deserved to go out. We deserved to treat ourselves to something, to just relax and enjoy each others company. To be fully present together instead of one of us holding Jackson while the other did something else. There's a lot of "can you while I" as parents, which is totally fine - it's the only way to get any shit done. But it's so important to also prioritise time spent together. The best environment to bring a child into is a happy and loving one. Their first example of love is between their parents so we owe it to them (and of course us) to really look after and nurture our relationship. So have the date night and don't feel guilty. Spend time working on your relationship. Because if shit hits the fan, or things pop up, you need to be able to support and work through it together - rather than clash because you've been living separate lives that are only connected by your baby.

How do you guys ensure that your relationship with your partner gets the time that it needs? Or don't you? Because I know the struggle. Is. Real. But man, it's important.

What Mum Looks Like On Me.

Friday, 15 June 2018

I've been following a lot of rad ladies on insta that talk about body image and positivity and it's made me realise something. Obviously, the media has really screwed up the way we think about what our bodies - this is no secret. But I guess I've had an "ah ha" moment and realised that the reason why there is this "ideal body" that we're all trying to achieve is because companies want us to feel inadequate enough that we'll buy their products, sign up to their programs, pay for their treatments in the hopes of getting closer to how we THINK we should look. And worst of all, a lot of the time these products/programs/treatments don't even work or help us get to where we think we should be. Because funnily enough, for some of us it's genetically and biologically it's impossible for some of us to look the way the media thinks we should look. And this whole "ideal" is causing eating disorders, body dysmorphia and depression. Because for some, it's unattainable. No matter how hard we try. And that's okay! Our bodies aren't supposed to look the same otherwise we'd all be born exactly the same size and shape. At birth, body diversity is celebrated so why isn't it for the rest of our lives?

The reason I'm talking about this is because I've been thinking a lot about life now as a Mum. About the changes my body has made since carrying and birthing a child. How I can't wear the clothes I used to because they're not easy to breastfeed in. That it's not practical to have my hair down or straightened because Jackson will just pull it. How I haven't worn perfume in months because I'm conscious of it being too strong for him. Life has changed, it's been completely flipped on it's head and yet, there is still this pressure to be the "super mum."

The media portrays the mum who can do it all. Who isn't letting mum life get in the way of her career. A working mum that is mumming like she hasn't got a job, and working like she hasn't got children. Who goes to the gym. Who wears a size 8/10 max. Who bounced back from her baby bod within nine months. Who meal preps, showers daily and only drinks tea and eats salads. Who gets her eyebrows done and wears make up daily. Who shows up without vomit/poo/food stains on her clothes. Whose baby only wears designer clothes. Who is part of a Mum squad that only includes other Mums who can "do it all."

And hey, there are some mums who have it down. Who prioritise how they and their babies look. Who make time in their day to look presentable because that's important to them. And that is their reality. But that isn't the ONLY mum reality. And it's not one that we should feel like we have to achieve. In fact, mine looks a lot different. See, mine includes unplucked eyebrows and an overgrown undercut. There's almost always a "mum bun" involved and my boobs are falling out of my ill-fitting maternity bra 99% of the time (if anyone has any AMAZING maternity bra suggestions for a G cup, hit me up because I am SICK of it). My clothes generally have questionable stains on them, and you'll often find me with a flannel down my bra because I can't afford to buy breast pads every week. Comfy pants are a must and I'm lucky if I can manage matching socks. 

I do manage to have a shower every morning otherwise I feel like a total mess but I know that's not everyone's priority. Some mums can't start their day without a coffee. Others want to begin their day with a home workout or a walk. For some, a rushed donut is their idea of a balanced breakfast while others are sitting down to a big bowl of porridge. And that's what I'm saying. Mum life looks different on everyone. It doesn't make anyone less or more of a Mum. It doesn't mean that the yoga mum is any better than the one whose been in PJs all day. My goodness, we all have a common goal and that is keeping our wee kiddies alive. And if we're doing that then I think we all get the Super Mama award. Every. Bloody. Day.

Moving Backward to Come Forward.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Here's the deal. Working from home while also being a stay at home 24/7 is a bloody mission. It's stressful. It's draining. It's confusing and if I'm honest, it's been a bit shit. I've spoken before about trying to find the balance and struggling. Well, I'm giving up. Or giving in? Either way, I've realised that I can't do it. And I'm not sure I want to.

When I imagined getting back into work I had a baby who had a predictable sleeping schedule. And I don't mean sleeping through the night, just that when he went to sleep, he'd stay asleep, by himself, for the amount of time he normally sleeps. And he was like that. But then we hit the four month regression (or something) and my nights disappeared. And so did my mornings. He's up every 1-3hrs, and won't really settle at night until I get into bed with him to sleep. Which means sometimes I'm in bed at 7pm or 8pm because that's the only way he'll settle. The mornings are similar, sometimes he'll go back to sleep after his 5am wakeup for a couple of hours, but others he'll need to be rocked/sung too/patted/shushed to get back to sleep. Then he'll wake up an hour later. And don't even talk to me about day naps. If I can get manage to get him to nap OFF me then it's a miracle.

Meanwhile, deadlines are getting missed, time frames are extended and I'm becoming too exhausted to actually get any work done. When I can find an extra hour in my day it's not spent in front of my computer catching up, it's frantically trying to do the dishes or put washing on or indulging in a cup of luke warm tea. There isn't really space in my life for work, unless I head on over to my in-laws for the day. But that's usually once a week and honestly, it's not enough. It's not enough because I'd rather use that day to get our house in order, or to do the groceries, or maybe to just hang out with my in-laws and watch them with Jackson. And it's hard because creativity and inspiration comes and goes, and sometimes it's not hanging out on the day that I need it.

I thought I NEEDED to work. To fuel my creativity. To keep my brain active. To fulfil my passion but all it is doing is ruining my experience as a first time Mum. I resent Jackson. I get annoyed because he needs to be sleeping so I can do my work. I'm frustrated when he won't do what I want because I KNOW that people are relying on me and I'm letting them down. How is that fair? On anyone? It isn't. 

Luckily we have a mortgage which means we have a bit of flexibility when it comes to finances. I mean obviously, we need to be earning money to pay it and our bills, but we're also able to borrow/refinance/top up. And while it's not the ideal situation, and we're going backwards a bit I think it's only going to benefit us. Money will be tight, we'll have to make sacrifices but I can only see positives in this decision. I WANT to be a stay at home Mum. Rob wants me to stay at home. I want to lie in with Jackson, to have a slow day without worrying about a "to do" list. I want to take him to visit family without thinking about all the emails I have to reply to. I'd like to actually watch him roll around on his play-mat instead of quickly trying to respond to enquiries and send files off. And if we can, then why not? He's only going to be little for such a short amount of time and when he's off to kindy, I'll be able to pick things back up again. 

The other thing is that we have been talking about Baby Key #2 and if we do decide to try for another baby, we'll be looking at the end of the year. Which means that everything will get turned on it's head again and we'll have to re-evaluate once more. I've been worried about losing momentum, about becoming irrelevant and disappearing when I worked so hard to build up a reputation. But you know what? I can get it back. Of course I can. Who's to say that I can't take a couple of years off and jump back into things when we're in a better position to? And you know, I might not even want to work as a freelancer anymore. Who knows! But I'm not happy with the amount of pressure and stress I'm putting on myself when I don't NEED to. 

So there we go. I've dropped some contracts, and am wrapping up projects. I've decided I won't go full cold turkey, if projects pop up that I'm really excited about and am happy to sacrifice time for, that I feel I can manage then I'll go for it. But I'm going to start saying no. To stop being scared of disappearing or losing opportunities. I know that I might be putting a hold on my career, but it's in exchange for fully experiencing Jacksons first few years of life and that's a trade off I'm willing to make. 

Finding Time for Me.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

So lately, there's been a lot of talk around self-care online. That it's important. That we need it. And I think that often, it falls to the bottom of the "to-do" list. Especially as a Mum. There's no time for lengthy baths or money for luxurious facials when dishes need to be done and nappies need to be bought. We only manage to find enough minutes in the day to have a shower, let alone snuggle up with a good book so we can escape for reality for a bit.

My counsellor, for the first time, suggested a direction we take during our sessions. Oh yeah! In case you missed it, I'm seeing a counsellor. I was a little worried about how I was feeling about Jackson and motherhood in general and I was starting to reflect a bit on my past and even present and realised that there might actually be a reason (or two) as to why I was holding back. I'm not one to just sit around and wait for things to happen so I booked in and she's been great. Really. She just has a way of understanding and summing up how I'm feeling. A lot of the time she is saying things I know but it's just really reassuring to hear a professional (and someone who is no way bias towards your situation) validate your thoughts. And after sharing the things I've been through she said she could totally understand why I feel the way I do which lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. 

So yeah. Counselling. That's happening. Anyway, on Thursday I mentioned that Rob and I had been talking about Baby Key #2 and that I really wasn't sure whether it was something I wanted. I know we don't have a huge rush (I mean, there is the IVF side of things and that might not be as successful the second time and we've also both wanted a smallish age gap, like 18 months - 2 years so that means I'd be pregnant at the end of the year omfgwtf) but it's been playing on my mind a lot. Mostly because I know that Rob has always wanted at least two. And I did too really until I actually became a Mum and realised what it all entails and how hugely my life specifically has been effected. Not in a bad way. Just in a different way. So I brought it up with my counsellor and she said she's hearing a lot of "what Rob wants" but not much of "what I want." Which made me think, how often do I put myself first?

The answer, not that often. Between attempting to keep the house tidy, paying the bills, doing the groceries, looking after a baby, trying to run my own business, managing a second passion project, spending time with my husband, having a social life, visiting my unwell mum and gran who both are quite emotionally dependent on me, running errands for them too, dealing with unwanted texts from my brother, spending time with the in-laws, there isn't a lot of time for me. At the moment the only time I do have "me time" is if I get up between 4-5 am and sacrifice sleep just so I can have breakfast in peace and maybe catch up on some youtube. But a lot of the time I end up doing the dishes, putting away laundry and then the txt comes from Rob saying that Jackson's awake. And Kate time is over.

Then, to think of throwing another baby into the midst of that is nuts. Ridiculous. I don't even want to think about it. See, a lot of people might think you're selfish for not wanting another baby, for not giving your child a sibling. And maybe it is. But I don't think there's anything wrong with that? You really have to think about how capable you are, the kind of lifestyle you want and whether kids can fit into that or not. You have to realise that life won't really get back to what it was like before kids for awhile and in fact, it might never happen. You've gotta be okay with it too. But anyway, this post isn't about that. Although obviously it's been playing on my mind a lot because it seems to be the first topic I bring up with anyone. I suppose it's a bit of a controversial subject, having an only child, and I'm always interested to hearing what people think. So if you are one or are just planning on having one, let me know how you've found it! 

Right. Where were we? Oh yeah. Putting yourself first. As a Mum. Kate, you're dreaming. Surely? Because where do you find the time to do that? To prioritise you. Jackson is exclusively breastfed and hardly takes the bottle so time alone is rare. Luckily I have a wonderful husband who has a great knack for putting him to sleep so there are times when I manage an hour or two away. But I'm not sure I'm really using that time very wisely. And I also need to figure out what self-care means to me. Often, I end up in front of my computer designing or blogging. Being creative is my outlet but it's also my job so I feel like spending time behind a screen isn't really the best form of self care for me. I'm not particularly into pampering myself (expensive hair cuts, manis/pedis and facials aren't my thing) and I always overheat in the bath. I also find that when I do have hands-free time it's usually spent doing housework or the groceries. Maybe I need to do less? Like, take less on? But I have responsibilities and people that rely on me so I'm not sure how I would do that. 

I don't have the answers. Perhaps we could ask Hermione if we can borrow her time turner? I have found one thing that is better than therapy though. One thing that I've just started that I was super dubious about but has quickly become the highlight of my week. Now, don't laugh... It's called Kanga Training. Yep. I know. I felt the same when I first heard about it. Basically, it's an hour long exercise class where you dance around a bit and get sweaty with your baby in a front pack. Like a kangaroo! Get it? Of course you do. I've been for the last two weeks and the effect it had on me was amazing. Rob even said he thinks I'm getting more out of the classes than I am from the counselling (plus it's a lot cheaper). I used to dance when I was younger so for me, it's revisiting that, spending time with a baby who has a 100% track record of falling asleep in the front pack, hanging out with other mums and getting my sweat on. Like actually, what's not to like? And I truly felt like a new person after. Finally, I found something for me. That involved Jackson but still focused on my needs. That we could do together without me stressing about him being fussy or not settling. It's a 10min drive from my house so it's not long enough for any car melt downs, you don't even have to wear shoes, you get to rock out to Vengaboys and you can just go at your own pace.

How I felt afterwards was incredible. Truly. And for the first time in the last four months, I felt like myself again. I was doing something for me, without feeling guilty that I wasn't spending enough time with Jackson. Something where I put myself first but that included my baby too. That kinda just ticked all the boxes of what I need for self care. It made me realise too, it's possible. It's possible to do things for you and have a baby. You can prioritise yourself, even if it's just for a couple of hours a week. And you should. Even if you're a solo parent, take up neighbours or friends who offer to watch your baby for an hour. Find activities that interest you that you can also do with your baby. Instead of allowing being a Mum stop you from doing the things you want, confront it face on and find a way around it. Babies are resilient and not as fragile as we think. And man, what a difference it will make to your journey as a Mum too.

I read something this week and it said, "Happy Mum, Happy Child." Have you heard of anything truer? If us Mums don't look after ourselves and meet our needs, we're grumpy. We're shitty, we're unhappy and we're resentful. And I think our kids will pick up on that. So for our sakes, and for our wee babes, we need to look after ourselves as well as we can. Because not only do we benefit from it, they do too. And I'm sure our partners won't complain about coming home to a couple of smiley faces either.

PS. If you enjoy a bit of a dancey workout (it's kinda like zumba I guess, although less booty shaking) then I 100% recommend you check out Kanga Training and see if there are classes in your area. So good.

But I Don't Want To.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Ever since Jackson was born, the first question on anyone's lips is "How is the sleeping?" And as any parent will know, the concept of a full night's sleep quickly becomes a thing of the past. Some parents are lucky and are blessed with a child who manages to sleep through fairly early on, others are up every couple of hours to nurse their babes. But for some reason, and I don't know who's fault this is, this is a misconception that babies have to sleep through the night. That they should. That if yours doesn't, there a bit of a dud. 

I've been finding that this is coming from either, people who haven't had babies or our parents/grandparents generation. And they're not too sweet about it either. I remember talking to someone about Jackson's sleep. I never complain. I mean sometimes I'm like, "gah jackson just sleep!" but I also know that he's pretty "normal." Which in baby world means that basically everything is normal. He does wake up quite a bit in night, especially recently, but it's because he's actually hungry - jumps on the boob, and falls asleep before he's finished. Anyway, I just said that he's up every 2-4 hours and straight away they go "you've gotta be tough Kate." Oh. Do I? Says who? You? Hmmm. They then proceeded to tell me that when they had their kids their father in law told them they have to be tough and let them cry it out. "And honestly Kate, my son is a great sleeper now because he learned pretty quick that we weren't gonna deal with that crap." Huh. "My wife found it pretty hard but I had had enough." Right.

Each to their own and I'm trying pretty hard not to criticise parenting styles because the truth is, we're all different - our situations, our parenting, our upbringing and our babies. So it's pretty understandable that we'd all parent differently too. But, please don't tell me what to do. Don't tell me that what I'm doing is wrong, that I have to do this. Don't make me feel like I'm being indulgent, that I'm spoiling my baby, that I'm creating bad habits. Because at the end of the day, it doesn't effect you in any way. At all!

See, while you're at home with your teenagers I'm in bed with my baby. While you're sleeping through the night, I'm getting up and feeding Jackson. When you have a sleep in, I'm changing his nappy, playing peekaboo, rocking him to sleep. What I'm doing as a parent has no effect on you whatsoever so you don't really have a say in how I choose to parent. Sure, crying it out might mean I get more sleep, but for me it feels wrong. I could implement a routine and add some structure into our lives so I'm in more control, but I prefer to just go with the flow and follow Jackson's signals. And if it doesn't seem like the right thing to do for us, then I'm pretty sure it isn't.

I understand where you're coming from. You just want it to be easier for me. You want to help. You are a parent and therefore have advice for a new one. But how about we lay off the "you should" and "you have to's." Let's rephrase it to "in my day," "oh man I remember when our kids were babies" and "have you tried." Perhaps then I'd be more likely to listen. When it comes down to it though, if I'm happy, if Rob's happy and if, most importantly, Jackson's happy, then that's all that matters to me. And we are. Honestly. I know that the constant waking is just a phase he's going through. I mean, it's bloody exhausting but I know developmentally it will get better. And in the mean time I'm just hoping that happens sooner rather than later but hey, we're on the Jackson ride so I'm just taking it as it comes.

And it suits us. We have found a freedom in no routine. He doesn't need a dark room to settle down and fall asleep. Yes he's fed or rocked to sleep but he gets there.  He's not fussy during the night. He's just hungry. So thank you for your advice. Thank you for thinking of us and wanting what's best. But, and I kinda feel like a dick for saying it, we're his parents and we know best. 

When Things Don't Go To Plan.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

You learn pretty quickly that when you have a baby, there isn’t really a plan. There is the way you’d ideally like your day to go. Then there is your realistic expectation of what could happen. And then there is the worst case scenario. The fun part is, you have no idea which way it’s gonna swing, what you’re going to end up with that day. You’ll be pretty confident in how your baby works, how long they’re sleeping, when they sleep. You’ll feel like you know them quite well so plan an outing around that, feeling like it’s going to go swimmingly. Ha! Did you tell your babe that? For some reason, your wee angel has turned into an inconsolable, screaming thing that won’t settle and your plans are shot. I mean, you could still go. But going out with a baby is stressful enough in the best conditions. Add a full set of lungs that are ready to be used, not a great time. 

The trick is, to set low expectations. Not just with your baby, but let your friends and family have them of you too. At the beginning, we kinda said yes to everything (pre baby) thinking we’d be fine. We were wrong. Earlier in the year, Rob’s family had a weekend camp where they were all spending time together, doing activities and staying overnight. We knew we wouldn’t be staying but had planned to spend two full days out there (driving there and back each day) with our four week old baby (yep, we obviously had no idea what we were doing). The camp rolled around and all I could feel was dread. He was so little. There were so many people. All the kids! And they just want to touch and play with him but I can hear their sniffles and coughs. I’d be hanging out with loads of mums who I know will be watching what I’m doing and I still don’t know myself! I’ll have to feed in public meaning getting my boob out in front of everyone and trying to play the “will he latch” game that I haven’t quite got the hang of yet. What seemed like a fun idea was turning into a nightmare and suddenly, all I felt was dread and anxiety when I thought about spending two full days away from home. 

Rob and I butted heads over it. And I get it. You don’t want to feel like you’re missing out and you also don’t want to feel like your baby is getting in the way of your life. But. Reality check. You will miss out and your baby will “get in the way.” That’s what they do. They’re demanding, require constant attention and need you to help them meet their needs. It’s not their fault. That’s just what being a baby is all about. It definitely takes some adjusting too but once you set the score and let friends and family know too, the pressure is off. 

Of course it’s hard to admit that you haven’t got it sorted. That your baby is being difficult. But that’s just how life is and the sooner you accept that, the easier it is to do what’s best for you. Even if it’s not what you planned. And when people expect the bare minimum of you, you can say no without fear that people think you’re being rude. You don’t have to make excuses for your messy house because they’re aware that you have a baby who doesn’t lend much opportunity to getting your household in check. Friends will understand when you have to cancel lunch because your baby won’t stop crying. Family will get it when you turn up an hour late as you wanted to let your baby sleep. People get it when they turn up and you are still in yesterday’s clothes with baby vom and food stains. Because you’ve let them know that this is just how it is. 

I’m still struggling to come to terms with it myself though. To let go of the idea of plans that must be stuck to. To understand that some nights he’ll be up all night and I need to sleep where I can instead of get up to work/clean because I’m going to burn out otherwise. To be honest with my clients about deadlines so I don’t feel so pressured and stressed when things don’t go to plan and I can’t get anything done. To get rid of this “supermum” vision I have of myself and just be honest and say, actually, today is just one of those days where I’m going to do nothing. That today has gone nothing like I planned and that’s okay. Because you know what? I still got cuddles. I still was treated to little smiles and giggles. I may not have showered and still be wearing my PJs but me and my boy got through another day and tomorrow is a new one. Hopefully one that is a little more “normal” but then again, what even is that? 

PS. This blog was written while I was on the toilet at 5.37am after being up at 11.30 (after a 9pm sleeptime), 12-1(feed and two cot attempts before admitting defeat and putting him bed with us), 2.30 (him waking me up by kicking me in the back), 3.30 (feed) and 4.30 (him wriggling around like crazy until he finally released a whole series of farts and a giant poo). I have a shit tonne of work to do but once I’m done here, I’m crawling back into bed for cuddles and some much needed sleep. Not how I planned today to go at all.

But Can You Tell Me Again?

Friday, 30 March 2018

Rob will tell you that one of the things that pisses him off about me (and I'm hoping it's a short list but you know guys and how much they love to talk about stuff ha!) is that I'm constantly asking for reassurance. And that even if he tells me I'm on the right track, that agrees with what I'm doing or supports my decision, it still takes someone else telling me for it to finally sink in. And I get that it's frustrating. To him it probably feels like his opinion isn't enough, that I'd listen to someone else over him. But I guess for me, sometimes I think he just goes along with what I say because he loves me. Because he doesn't want to start an argument. Because it doesn't think it's worth butting heads over. 

I have realised, especially since becoming a parent, that I really need that reassurance. I crave being told that I'm doing the right thing, that I'm doing a good job. I think we all probably do to be honest. I mean, we've been thrust into this new job/position/world where we have no real prior experience, we're 100% responsible for a LIFE that is not our own, and we really have no idea what we're doing. So it makes sense that we want to feel like we're doing okay. And there are so many ways to parent, so many theories/articles/bits of research that contradict and support each other. At every plunket visit our baby is being charted, compared to other babies. Our parenting is questioned - Does baby sleep in their own bed? Do you want to hear about safe sleeping? What are their sleep habits like? Have they started doing this yet? We actually don't recommend baby-led weaning. 

Every time someone asks how parenthood is going it's - Are they sleeping through the night yet? Do you still let them sleep on you? Isn't that starting bad habits? You definitely need to toughen up and just let them cry it out. Are they crawling yet? Have they started sitting up? Don't you think they're a bit hot? I'm sure they'd rather be doing this than that. And it's hard to feel confident when you're constantly being bombarded by questions, judgements and expectations. You think you have it sorted, that you kinda feel like you know what you're doing and are happy with the parenting choices you've made when an article comes out and flips it all on it's head. Suddenly you're not so sure after all and are googling away to find some kind of reassurance that what you're doing is okay, that you're not causing problems for baby along the way. 

Rob tells me it's more on me than on them. That the media/society isn't going to change just because I want them to so I need to steel myself, be confident and just back the decisions that I'm making. And he's right. I do need to trust myself and us as a couple, that we've decided this is how we want to do things and if it's working for us, then there's no reason to doubt what we're doing. But when you're tired, emotional and unsure, it's pretty hard to find that inner strength to not let things get to you. Plus, one of my flaws is that I'm super defensive. I just don't like feeling like I'm doing something wrong! I generally strive to do my best in everything, and I do like to please people so if I feel that I'm not doing that, it really gets to me. 

I've also noticed this coming out in a lot of Mum's that I've been interacting with too. How's the sleeping going? Oh yeah, well last night he slept with us - but he was so grumpy and I was exhausted and I just couldn't think of any other way we could all sleep but he was totally fine and we all slept great so it was okay that we all slept in the same bed. Mama, you do you. So when he falls asleep on you, do you try and put him down? Well I have tried before but then he usually wakes up and I figure it's better for him to get a solid sleep on me then if I put him in the cot and then he wakes up and it takes ages to get him back to sleep but he's still so little so I don't think I'm starting any bad habits right? And anyway it's nice to have some time to just relax with him and I don't mind anyway. We can't just say what we're doing without feeling like we need to justify it. That we need to explain why we're doing something, just in case we get back lash or told that we're wrong. 

Rob is right though. It IS on me. It's on me to be confident in what we're doing. To reassure myself that the way we are parenting is what works for us and for Jackson and that's all that matters. That we're all happy and healthy, and that's because of the decisions we've made in terms of how we want to raise Jackson and work as a family. I do try and research, just because I don't want to be stubborn and purely follow Jackson's signals if there is potentially a better way that will benefit him and his development. I do think you need to find the balance between knowledge and instinct, even if it's just to make a decision that you can be more confident if what you're doing is backed by research that  believe in and agree with. I feel like I can truly stand up for myself if I really believe that I'm doing the right thing, because sometimes I don't. 

And Rob (yes you) also needs to understand that as a Mum, you are questioned. You are judged. And sometimes you just want your partner to agree (or not) with you, to read the articles, to show interest in the fact that you're trying to make sure you're taking the best approach and if they don't, to share with you what they think you should be doing. Team effort guys. It's new for everyone, just because us Mum's carried the baby for nine months doesn't mean we know better than you do (even though it might sometimes feel like we do). And when we feel backed, when we're reassured (and we might need it once a day, or sometimes ten) then we can be confident and say - this is my baby, my life, and you can just bloody well let me get on with things thank you very much.

So just bare with me Rob. Reassure me. Let me know that we're in this together. Be honest with me when it comes to parenting choices I've made and let me know if you think we should try something else. I'll get there. Of course I will. It's still early days. But eventually, the judgements will slide off, the expectations won't feel so pressured and I'll be able to confidently face people and stand up for our choices and decisions we've made.

PS. On the subject of sleeping and worrying about your baby cat napping during the day, I recently discovered this wonderful article that put my mind at ease and reassured me that following Jackson's signals was really just allowing his body to naturally do what it needs to do. I felt pretty proud of myself to know that my instincts were correct, that by following what felt right I was aiding a natural process. And now when people question his sleeping habits, I know for sure that it's okay he might not be sleeping how the experts say they should be. That he's behaving as he should and I've just gotta ride it out until he's developmentally ready to change.
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