A Letter to my Pre-Mum Self

 

Dear Pre-Mum me,

Just thought I’d drop you a line ahead of tiny people taking up residence in your womb. I hope you’re keeping well. All is good this side of the timeline. Exhaustion is a bit of an on-going issue, but you get used to it, and sometimes in all the madness of life, sleep deprived delirium can even be a bonus.

Hope you’re enjoying some carefree wild nights with your friends. Still a total night owl here, but the rave moves have become more of the “swaying the baby to sleep kind” and the attire is now less about displays of pert, voluptuous cleavage and more about the support and easy access to sometimes melon proportioned breasts for night feeds.

Enjoy all the latest cinema releases. While now you may hold an opinion on all the Oscar nominated and winning movies, in the years to come if it’s not made by Pixar or Disney, you won’t have seen it – over and over and over again.

Go out while you can, anywhere, everywhere, whenever, without the military preparation required to take a small person and half the house with you. Visit friends and family while they still smile happily to see you arrive rather than stare at you with a look of terror as you unload the troops from the car.

Wear crop tops more often.  Your tummy is going to look a LOT different in years to come. Whether it’s sunny, blowing a gale, raining, snowing or -10, show off your stomach, while you can …sob.

Take long showers and lather yourself in luxurious smellies while treating your glossy locks to some hair masks. The day will come when you’ll shower with just one leg in the cubicle as you strain to hear if your baby is crying and your hair will be washed with baby shampoo, or maybe just liquid
soap – assuming you have time to wash it at all that is.

Enjoy life and don’t sweat the small stuff.  There’s a whole load of small stuff, of the human variety, coming your way, that’ll really give you plenty to sweat about.

Oh and don’t buy that beige couch.  You’ll have to replace it in late 2001, after an unfortunate Ribena incident.

See you on the other side. The fun awaits!

 

Love Jen. xxx

An Ode to Breastfeeding

Breast is best, we’ve heard it said,
There’s nothing can compare,
As long as practiced discreetly of course,
So people, they won’t stare,
Cos you might put them off their food,
If Boobies they did see,
While trying to have a wrap or roll,
With their coffee or their tea,
And even if your baby cries,
With hunger for a feed,
Find somewhere out of people’s gaze,
A toilet, if you need,
After all the comfort of mum and babe,
Is very important too,
And baby will still enjoy their lunch
Surrounded by wee and poo,
Exhibitionist mums, please be aware,
And think of others’ feelings,
Don’t whip ’em out for all to see,
Directing gazes to the ceilings,
Cos Boobs are fine for porn and mags,
For Ads and T.V maybe,
The only time they cause offence,
Is when you’re feeding baby!
😉 Happy Breastfeeding week everyone. Jen.x

Time flies when you’re having fun!

Fifteen years ago tomorrow, I became a mother for the first time when my beautiful baby girl came into the world, informing it of her arrival with lungs that Shirley Bassey would have been proud of. She turned my life as I knew it, on its head and if I’m honest, in the weeks that followed, made me wonder what on earth I’d done.

In spite of the shock to the system that was first time motherhood, I fell completely and utterly head over heels in love with this gorgeous bundle of pink and my parenting journey began. Twelve years later to the day, my sixth child, her little brother and Godson was born.

 At the time, his arrival made my daughter seem very grown up by comparison, as she approached the end of her primary school time. He seemed so dependent in every regard while she was about to start an exciting new chapter in her education, one she couldn’t wait for. She strived for independence and he couldn’t live without me. The different needs were stark and challenging.

The first child gets to be the guinea pig in so many regards. I was she myself, so I can appreciate the frustrations but now I’m viewing it from a different perspective. This week as my daughter takes on her Junior Cert I’m like most mums I imagine, and I worry that she’ll get enough rest, not stress too much and hope the paper goes well. I’m trying in the little ways that I can, to make home life a little bit easier for her so she can do what she needs to do. What I really want to do however, is actually go in and take the exams for her.

As I type, my nine month old son is bouncing to the tune of “In the Night Garden” and my “one day away from 15” year old daughter is taking Irish Paper 2. How she gets on will be totally down to her. I can’t influence or affect the outcome of the exams, save maybe for helping her to be in the best frame of mind possible and discouraging the pointless post mortems after each paper. In contrast, I can pick up my bouncing nine month old and feed, change and do everything he needs done for him.

As I walked back from the school today many parents stopped to admire my littlest dude. They said they couldn’t believe how he big he is now and everyone agreed time goes so fast. It certainly does. As if birthdays aren’t enough of a reminder, state exams certainly hammer that home!

 

One of those nights!

My baby is a terrible sleeper, I mean absolutely shockingly bad and the last few months have involved me functioning in a sleep deprived stupor with several moments of confused dreams versus reality. In fairness none of his older siblings slept either as babies so I can’t claim that I didn’t know what I was getting into but that doesn’t make it any easier when you’re going through the torture that is sleep deprivation.

Yesterday, exhaustion was really catching up with me so I set myself the target of hitting the sack before midnight and preferably by 10:30.  That
is no mean feat in this house! The baby is the only one who tends to wake up at night here, except for bouts of illness, so with no homework or school to get ready for the next day, there was never a better opportunity to catch up (a little bit anyway), on much longed for sleep .

The evening went a bit like this
9:00 p.m. My teenage daughter suddenly decides she needs to know all about quadratic equations, now, not tomorrow or the next day, but at this very moment in time.  Her life practically depends on it (I suspect a maths test is looming that I haven’t been told about – it couldn’t possibly be the Junior Cert because that’s a whole five weeks away!)

10:00 p.m. The two year old comes down the stairs.  He has decided it’s morning time

 

10:15 p.m The five year old calls to say the two year old is
in his bed…..again

10:30 p.m. The five year old comes down the stairs….just
because

10:45 p.m The nine year old comes down the stairs because he
has a cramp behind his knee

11:00 p.m The eleven year old comes down the stairs to
remind me that I have to sign the note for for his school tour (have I
mentioned my primary schoolers have no school this week)

11:30 p.m. Husband goes to feed the dog, forgets he has already put the alarm on, opens the back door, baby awake!

12:15 a.m  baby fed , changed and finally settled, I fall into bed exhausted

1:10 a.m baby awake again, wants a quick feed and cuddle

2:25 a.m. Five year old comes into the room.  Says he has been burping a lot and needed to say excuse me. Apparently he couldn’t just say it to himself. He needed someone to hear it or else it would be bad manners. I look at him bleary eyed. Its 2:25 in the morning, far too early or late to consider the whole “if a tree falls in the wood and there’s no one to hear it” philosophy

2:30 a.m Baby wakes….. repeat 1:10 a.m.

3:00 a.m Two year old appears convinced the Gruffalo is
after him

3:25 a.m Two year old reappears to tell us he loves us, and he loves food and he loves the fridge apparently. He also thinks he might need a wee

3:45 a.m. Baby wakes , just to check I’m still about

4:30 a.m Nine year old appears, cramp behind his knee again and he wonders if we know whether or not he will be going to his friends for a
sleepover this week

4:45  a.m. Baby wakes – weak with the hunger!

5:30 a.m. Baby wakes to check he hasn’t been abandoned

6:25 a.m. I wake to hear the two year old singing in his bed “We dig for diamonds, we dig for gold”, a song from Ben and Holly ………and a new day
begins!

 

Appreciation!

When my first child was born and I realised the pain of childbirth, I found a new respect for my mother. And when my baby never slept and I had to function in a zombie like state, I found a new respect for my mother. When my toddler threw tantrums in the supermarket, doctor’s surgery, bus, school gate and every other place imaginable I found a new respect for my mother. And when the never ending mountain of homework started to arrive and preparing dinner and clearing a bomb site had to be fit in around it, I found a new respect for my mother. When I became the mother of a teenager and found myself in the alien territory of mood swings, strops and general hormonal breakdowns, I found a new respect for my mother BUT since my dishwasher has broken down and I have to wash the dishes myself on top of everything else, I’ve realised that woman, was a bloody saint!!!!

Last Day Of The Hols

The Easter holidays drew to a close here yesterday in pretty
busy style.  We had visitors in the shape
of my parents in law and my sister in law with her family.  Our nine year old returned from a friend’s
sleepover after having far too much fun to sleep and so was in the sort of form
you’d expect from a walking demon.  Our
teenager went to the last disco before her Junior Cert which started at 8
o’clock so obviously she had to start getting ready from 2 o’clock, (that
certain shade of tangerine they all like to be, takes a while to take hold) while
the “in between” kids played happily with their cousins without any regard for the
Department of the Environment noise pollution guidelines.
While eating we were treated to a floor show by my two year
old who is well capable of using the toilet but preferred to show the accuracy
with which he can aim at the potty , the sort of accuracy you tended to see
from the person who answered the questions on bullseye.  The five year old meanwhile imitated Dusty Crophopper,
complete with sound effects and actions from the Planes movie which was being
shown simultaneously on RTE and the seven month old looked on bemused but
definitely not fazed by the whole spectacle. It was a lovely afternoon.

When everyone was gone home and most of the kids were in bed,
all that was left to do was wait for my daughter to come home.  The baby, who doesn’t rate sleep, kept us
company and greeted his sister with a big smile as she came in the door.  It’s an almost surreal feeling sometimes to
have a child old enough to go to a disco and have a child so young he needs
propping up with cushions on the floor. It’s funny to have children who keep
you up at night for very different reasons.

Today, much to my kid’s disgust will be about getting ready
for the return to school tomorrow. 
Trying to reel back in bedtimes which have gone more than a little askew
over the last couple of weeks and making sure everything is ready for the week
ahead.  I have loved the break from the
routine, the freedom from homework and afterschool activities and the
reclaiming of our afternoons.  There has
been lots of fun had and far too many rows too but all good things must come to
an end. Now how to convince them that the return to school is not all bad……
#atleasttheresagrandstretchintheevenings #mamatude

Breastfeeding shaming

I have read a huge amount online in recent weeks about
episodes of breastfeeding shaming which still seems to happen on a much larger
scale than I would have expected.  My son
is almost seven months old and is breastfed. 
No big deal in my eyes.  He’s a baby.
He gets hungry.  He gets fed – pretty
much wherever and whenever necessary. He’s slightly (very slightly) more
predictable now that he’s older but, in the early days, I knew that any kind of
an outing would most likely involve me having to feed my baby in public. Now,
I’m not a whip ‘em all out kinda girl, (except that time I walked into my
daughter’s school for a presentation and hadn’t put them completely away after
feeding the little guy in the car – however, that wasn’t deliberate and she’s
slowly recovering from the trauma and embarrassment I caused her) but then
again I don’t know any breastfeeding mother who is. A huge amount of the time,
no one would even know I was feeding the baby and I think this is the case for
most mothers.  It has happened, however,
and usually at the most inopportune time, that my son has decided to suddenly
stop feeding, turn around, give a gummy grin to a passerby and expose my boob
to any poor unsuspecting and potentially easily offended individual sitting or
standing in my line of vision.

I’ve never been made to feel uncomfortable breastfeeding my
baby in public. I’ve never had a disapproving look, someone moving seat or a
comment about whether or not an appropriate proportion of my breast is on
show.  I hope it’s not just a case that
I’ve been lucky.  I hope the stories of
breastfeeding shaming, while apparently plentiful at the moment, are a
collection of isolated incidents. I would hate to think that something so
natural could cause offence to so many people. To paraphrase a midwife I met
while expecting my first child “Breasts have a function. They are there to feed
your baby, even if men like to play with the empties!” For me breastfeeding is
hugely convenient in that it allows me to adopt the motto “have boobs, will
travel”. It saves me a huge amount of time in an already chaotic life. The biggest
inconvenience it causes me actually, is the restriction
in my wardrobe choices.  I am now a
wearer, almost entirely of separates! #remembertoputthemawayafter #sorryhoney
#mamatude 

Baby Love

Something I wrote about my youngest, but it could be any of our babies….💜
It’s 3am, the night is dark,
But baby wants to play,
He beams at me, touches my face,
So I begin to sway.
I softly sing him lullabies,
Encourage him to doze,
But he keeps smiling up at me
And wriggles baby toes.
I try another tactic,
I stroke his little cheek,
His baby blues begin to close
And ‘neath his lashes peek
My baby boy is fast asleep,
All snuggled in my arms,
And though I’m tired, I gaze at him,
Won over by his charms.
For nothing ever could foretell,
The love that I would know,
When baby came into my life,
And how that love would grow.

Survival tips for life with a young baby!

My youngest little dude has just turned six months old. Even though he’s my seventh child and I’m pretty familiar at this stage with most things baby, I still have to succumb to baby demands and the restrictions that go with having such a young child. With this in mind I thought I’d share my top five survival tips for life with a young baby!
1. Try to make some new friends with babies. Sometimes easier said than done but it’s great to have someone who is going through the same stage as you. Friends with older children can be fantastic sources of advice but they can also have short memories when it comes to sleepless nights, the inevitable nappy explosion that occurs as you try to leave the house and the need to stop and feed your baby at a moment’s notice. Mother and Toddler groups, breastfeeding support groups and even your Public Health Nurse can be a great medium through which to meet new mum friends
2. If you’re offered help, take it. The smallest things can make the biggest difference. If it’s not offered, ask. Sometimes people just don’t think. Whether it’s asking someone who has come to visit to hold the baby while you have a quick shower, or taking someone you trust up on their offer to watch the baby while you get out for a quick walk , do it. Life is swings and roundabouts. We all need a bit of help sometimes and there’ll be another opportunity for you to be the person who helps in the future.
3. Be realistic about your expectations. Not many babies are sleeping through the night at six weeks. You are not doing something wrong. If you breastfeed, some babies, particularly in the early days might feed every twenty minutes and yes they can be starving again an hour later even after taking a substantial feed. If you’re bottle feeding, the same rules can apply. Do you eat on a strict four hour schedule? If you plan to go somewhere, allow yourself adequate time and be realistic about how long you can manage to be out for. Babies are predictably unpredictable. If you allow for the unexpected, you’re less likely to end up frustrated if and when things don’t go according to plan.
4. Don’t take the baby books as law. People are different, babies are different, even within the same family. The books can be a great source of advice, but they’re a rough guide. Not all babies crawl, sit, walk or talk at the same time and that doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem. There can be months of a difference between different babies meeting their milestones. Trust your instinct and talk to your G.P. or P.H.N if you’re worried.
5. Enjoy the coos and the smiles. There is nothing more infectious than a baby’s laugh. It won’t take away the tiredness but it helps you cope with the daily slog!

Time passes so quickly

Without a doubt, for me, one of the most challenging things about having a larger family is trying to meet the needs of the relatively vast age span. Stroppy teenagers, tantruming toddlers and a six month old who just won’t be convinced of the merits of sleep, no matter how hard I try, can lead to a very cranky mammy. Sometimes I find myself in a sleep deprived stupor, unable to correctly link the name to the child and so revert to my mother’s tactic of listing through all our names in the hope someone will come. I have been known to say “you with the curly hair” when I’m trying to get one particular child’s attention or just “you” after a particularly bad night. It’s easy to see why sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture! 

I remember shortly after my daughter’s birth, 14 years and 9 months ago ( but who’s counting) when the mother of my neighbour came to have a look at my precious little bundle who, like her six month old brother now, could not be convinced of the joys of sleep. In addition to this, my daughter (who had colic) could cry, and cry and cry. As I loaded my little pink bundle into the car, my neighbour’s mother said to me “enjoy these days, these are the easiest”. I thought she was quite obviously off her rocker. Now my bundle of pink stands three inches taller than me and I can’t quite believe that 14 years and 9 months (but who’s counting) have passed since she came into my life. My now teenager, brings a whole different set of challenges and not just the obvious ones of mood swings and door slamming, but the balancing act of trying to be her mum and protecting her and guiding her while trying to let go a little, to let her find her own way and to continue to become the wonderful young woman that she is growing to be. 

These days I think my neighbour’s mother was right. They were the easiest years. Difficult when you’re coping with constant feeding and nappy changes and sleepless nights but the time goes so quickly – too quickly. So when my toddler throws a wobbler because he can’t find his magic wand and my baby gets up for the umpteenth feed during the night I try to remind myself of the mantra – this too shall pass ………..but hopefully not too quickly….. 
😊 -Jen ‪#‎mamatude‬