The day I met you, my darling baby, everything changed. I would never be able to just think about me anymore as my actions would directly affect you. I will be the role model to you and I will be the first person in this world that will show you what love is. There has never been anyone like you in my world before and I still can’t believe how instantly I fell in love with you. When someone says they don’t believe in love at first sight they must not have been lucky enough to become a parent like me.
I will never forget the way you smelt as you were laid on my chest for the first time. I felt exhausted, relieved , overwhelming emotions of love and fear of how I was now responsible for this tiny person for the rest of my life. From that day I became a mother which is something I will cherish dearly until my dying day. I had to learn quickly how to wash a baby, dress a baby and how to feed, which was hard to begin with and nothing like when I had played with dolls as a child. You needed me and were relentless with your needs, but I sacrificed it all as I wanted to do it all for you.
I cherished my time feeding you, taking you for walks and rocking you to sleep, as you are not just my child, but also my friend. I would sometimes get you out of your cot, still asleep and sit with you in a chair rocking you and stroking your face, desperately trying to remember the way you felt in my arms. You soon grew, much quicker than I had anticipated and were soon toddling around my house, causing destruction. We started going for walks to the park, just us two, to feed the ducks and I can honestly say I was so happy in your company. We spent many a day cuddled on the sofa, playing dolls and painting together, then the day came where you had to leave me.
You ran off without a second look back through your classroom doors and began a life away from me. I wasn’t there all day to help, guide or teach you right from wrong and I missed you terribly. I still had your baby brother at home, but I missed having my darling little girl with me. When I collect you from school my heart fills with love and I’m so happy to hear your stories and what you have learnt today, but I’m secretly jealous that someone else gets you. I loved the day you told me about the dinosaurs and how they were ‘stinct’ and then asked if I knew any of them.
The days we have together are not as often now and when I reach for your hand to hold, you soon let go to be free, ready to explore the world on your own. I know at bedtime no one does bedtime stories as well as me and that you will make any excuse to keep me in your bed just one more minuet longer. I will hold you as long as you let me, kiss you on the forehead, stroke your hair and breath you in. You will never stop being my little girl and the promises I made to you when you were born will be forever. You are my love, my darling, my baby and I will be with you forever.
I have been quiet vocal about how Miss J didn’t accept her baby brother when he was born 19 months ago. It’s something quiet common, but it’s not something you want to really talk about. Miss J was just over two when I got pregnant with her brother and was such a mummy’s girl. She was my mini me and always wanted mummy to put her to bed and read her stories. Whilst I was pregnant we did everything we could to prepare her for her new sibling, by talking about what was happening, taking her to our gender scan and letting her pick baby clothes and toys. She seemed to be understanding and kept asking when baby would ‘pop out’. When ever I did hold another baby she would get extremely jealous, so I did wonder if it would take a little adjustment initially. In preparation for her brother arriving we bought Miss J a fairy locket for her brother to give her and she picked out a blue ‘snuggle bunny’ the same as her much loved bunny. Everything we could have possibly done to prepare for his arrival was done and it was just now a waiting game.
At 37 weeks my waters broke without sending me into labour so after a 24 hour wait I was sent to hospital to be induced which didn’t work the first time. I had a long wait waiting for labour to kick start and was feeling really emotional and sad about not seeing my daughter. I had decided I didn’t want Miss J to see me in hospital and would let her meet her brother in her own home. Mr T arrived safely and we were able to leave the next afternoon to get home. Miss J was being looked after by a friend and was bought home to meet him. Her initial reaction was ‘it popped out’, she gave him gift and went off to play. I wasn’t expecting much from her and that was fine, as I knew it would take her time to adjust.
Miss J wasn’t interested in her little brother and was getting quiet jealous of me breastfeeding him. I was prepared that this could happen and spent as much time as I could with sitting with her and spending time with her and at first it was manageable as my husband was off work for two weeks to help. When my husband went back to work on twelve hour shifts things became a lot more strained. Everytime Mr T would cry she would put a muslim over his face and I was trying to explain to her why she couldn’t do that without making her resent him more. She would scream when I was holding him, refuse to walk if we were out and I was pushing him in his pram. She refused to even call him by his name and refered to him as ‘the baby’. I was having to bribe Miss J with sweets so I could get the occasional picture with her brother and I was trying desperately to get her to bond, but nothing was working and I knew it wasn’t something that could be forced.
My own mother suggested Miss J stayed over every Friday so I got a break, she got a break and I was able to bond with my baby. Miss J loved going over for the night, but when it came to coming back home she would scream that she didn’t want to, which was breaking my heart. I felt so guilty for bringing this baby into her life who she resented. I was struggling to get out the house and I was struggling to bond with my baby, looking back now it’s not surprising that I got postnatal depression.
There was nothing I could do, but to keep on trying to show Miss J that her brother wasn’t all that bad. I was getting her involved in any way possible, by getting nappies, letting her feed him a bottle, help wash him. I was patient with her and excepted that a bond for her would take time. I encouraged her to sit and communicate with him and to show him her toys or dancing and gradually I was seeing something happen. The real turning point was when Miss J started pre-school for two and half days a week. She loved going and having time to play with her friends and I loved being able to bond with baby or go shopping with ease. I remember taking Mr T for his jabs and had no choice, but to take Miss J with me, she insisted on holding his hand and became so worried and upset when he was crying. She was feeling his pain and was showing real concern for her little brother. Even though watching your baby have injections is usually a horrible experience it was something quiet special about that day as Miss J showed for the first time that she loved her brother. She still gets a bit jealous at times as he does of her, but I think that’s just natural for siblings. When Mr T wakes first in the morning he shouts her name and goes to find her in her bed and when she’s up first she climbs into his cot for cuddles. To watch them now you would never know what a struggle it was for her to bond with her brother, she’s extremely protective of him and loves to sit reading him books and play with his toys. They have their moments like any siblings do, but I can now see I’ve given her the greatest gift in the world which is her brother.
Taking Miss J home from hospital for the first time was nothing short of magical. She was beautiful, happy, content and feeding well. My husband was lucky enough to be able to take two weeks off and we spent those couple of weeks visiting friends and family and going out for lunches. When my husband went back to work working 12 hour shifts and the visitors died down I started to realise the reality of being a mum with a husband who worked. I started to get lonely and realised that being at home with a baby all day long, with no one else to speak to was lonely and isolating. At first when Miss J came along we had so many visitors, but as she got older they dwindled, not for any fault of their own it was because life moves on and people have their own lives to live.
I didn’t have postnatal-depression with Miss J but I did struggle with anxiety so for me to go to baby grows was pretty scary experience and something I would get myself really worked up over. I forced myself into these groups but in the village where I lived at 24 I was one of the younger mum’s who went and felt a little bit unsure of myself. I continued to go and did make some lovely friends through these groups and me and Miss J loved doing the baby massage class together. My year at home with Miss J was pretty jammed packed full of different groups sometimes even two in one day and it honestly was the best year of my life. The baby stage is very short, even if at times it feels never-ending probably because you haven’t had eight hours sleep over three nights let alone one night. I felt it was important and helpful to me to find some friends who were going through the same stage as me so baby groups and also Facebook groups were so invaluable to me. When I did have to return to work when Miss J turned one I was honestly gutted that I wouldn’t have that time with her again. I went back to work three days a week and I cherished my days off in the week with her.
When Mr T came along I was naive to think it would be the same. I thought having Miss J at home would be helpful and would be nice as I could now have a proper conversation with her. Miss J wasn’t particularly impressed with this screaming and pooing thing that I spent most of my time feeding. She because quiet jealous and wouldn’t acknowledged his existence. As a mum you immediately feel guilty and that you have betrayed your first born child and with my husband going back to work I had never felt more alone and isolated. I tried desperately to get out the house but I found toddler groups just exhausting, as I had to keep an eye on Miss J whilst carrying Mr T with me. I wasn’t actually able to talk with anyone and found the whole experience stressful. Miss J decided to perfectly time stopping napping when her brother was a week old which made me I feel I was unable to have anytime to actually bond with my new baby or time to be able to appreciate my daughter and I desperately lonely in my house all day long. We tried getting out with walks to the park but Miss J would refuse to walk and want picking up whilst I tried to push the pushchair. I found that I wasn’t seeing or speaking to people for days and I would just sit at home crying and feeling like I was letting both of my children down.
When Mr T was 5 months old something had to give and I excepted that I needed to get help for postnatal-depression and anxiety. Luckily Miss J had started pre-school at this point and I was able to get a little bit of a break from her and she could get a break from me and her brother. I started taking antidepressants and started CBT which did help my anxiety. It has been a constant battle and something I am still battling. I’m enjoying my time more with the children and I am able to appreciate them more, but I do still have times where I feel isolated and lonely. Miss J now loves her little brother and also loves to go to school whilst Mr T has got a little easier and is happy to entertain himself for short periods of time so I can just about keep on top of the house.
The point to this post is that it does get easier and it is all momentary and will not last forever. They will soon grow, need you less and became their own little people. It’s important to involve yourself in local groups, even if it means trying out a few until you find one you really like. Connect on Facebook with local groups and also baby groups and you will soon realise you are not alone and that your feelings are quiet normal to feel lonely. I have made some lovely friends through Facebook, some who I have met a few times and some who only live in my phone, but these people are real people who care for me and support me as I do for them. Do what you need to do to get through the day and don’t feel guilty as you are doing a lot better job than you think you are. If someone offers to babysit, take them up on it, if no one asks, then ask them, if you can put you child in a crèche whilst going to the gym, then do it and if you can put an older child in preschool or nursery then do it. A happy mummy equals happy children so make sure you are looking after yourself so you can look after your children properly.
I’m not writing this blog post to get anyone’s backs up or to debate which way of feeding is better. Both breastfeeding and formula have their places in society and we are lucky enough that we can make an informed choice on which way we plan to nourish our babies. For me I had planned to breastfeed before I had even got pregnant. My own mother had breastfed me and she always described it such a wonderful thing to do, that I knew I wanted to at least try it and hope that I could do it.
I understand many woman cannot breastfeed through inadequate milk supply, medication, latch problems, lack of support or wrong advice given. Some ladies decide they don’t want to do it and again that is completely your choice to make and not something anyone should ever make you feel guilty about. What upsets me most is so many people I know who have tried to breastfed have not been given the right advice and have been told something different every time they have seen a different midwife. Lots of people fall into the top up trap and find milk supply dwindles further and late diagnosis of tongue and lip tie are stopping ladies from being able to sustain a good breastfeeding relationship that will subsequently end too soon. In the UK we have one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world and I think us ladies are being let down with support that we need.
Like many other new mums I struggled at first to breastfeed my daughter Miss J, she latched fine but I was in agony with cracked and bleeding nipples and spent a few days pumping on one side and even did the occasional top-up of formula until my milk had properly come in. I spent a lot of time crying and unsure how long our journey would last. I was lucky to have done the NCT antenatal course and had been given great advice on breastfeeding. I phoned up the helpline when I needed support and was lucky enough to be helped out and encouraged.
Mr T had problems with reflux and was forever being sick and choking so I took him to the doctor at six weeks old and because he was gaining weight well they weren’t worried about him and the doctor advised me he was a piggy baby and I needed to limit his feed time and the space between feeds, which is appalling advice to give an exclusively breastfed baby. For one he would have been in distress and screaming, secondly it would have effected my milk supply and thirdly it wouldn’t have fixed the reflux. I had told the doctor I wouldn’t take his advice and was spoken to like a foolish idiot and reluctantly given a prescription of infant gaviscon. If anyone else has tried to give a breastfed baby gaviscon will know what a pain it is to do with each feed as you can’t just slip it into a bottle. I did my best and gave it a go but unfortunately it made things worse as he was now choking on his now thickened sick and I realised we needed to see another doctor quickly. Second time around I got to see a lovely lady doctor who prescribed us something that actually did work. He was still sick a lot, but it was little and often and he was no longer screaming in pain. Mr T’s reflux has only really now gone and he ended up in hospital at 12 months old after going blue from his reflux.
I exclusively breastfed Miss J until she was six months old and then went to combination feeding until she was a year old and I returned to work. I didn’t realise at the time that there were also so many amazing breastfeeding groups on Facebook, with mums who have gone through any kind of issue you can imagine and if I knew then what I know now I would have continued to breastfeed when I went back to work.
I felt insecure about feeding Miss J in public and would often sit in smelly changing rooms feeding her, sitting in my car or even go home so I didn’t have to. When Mr T came along and I already had a three-year old with me, everything had to change and I fed where ever and whenever I needed to. For me it was easier to feed than to make a bottle and I often fed one-handed whilst making Miss J’s lunch and out and about in the baby carrier. I wish I would have had the confidence to do the same with Miss J and not worry about someone else’s opinion. I have only had a couple of comments from people when feeding and have had a fair few stares, but have also had some lovely words of encouragement from strangers.
A few times I have thought my breastfeeding journey would have to come to an end after being prescribed antidepressants and then antipsychotics, but I have luckily been given information to show my doctors to show them that I can still breastfeed and take these drugs. Please check with the Breastfeeding Network if your doctor has told you that you need to stop feeding.
For me I have loved both my breastfeeding journeys and am still continuing to feed Mr T at morning and night at 19 months old. I have loved seeing Mr T’s rolls grow knowing that I had made them myself like some kind of super hero. I’m not a morning person and I don’t do well being woken in the night so for me being able to feed my baby with little interruption has been so perfect for us. I would scoop Mr T out of his cot and lay back on my side and feed him whilst my darling husband would be none the wiser. I didn’t have the worry of disturbing my husbands or daughters sleep and didn’t have to go downstairs to get a bottle in the night. I’ve found it great when they have been sick and wanted extra milk or when they have gone through a growth spurt after previously sleeping through the night. I love the fact I have it on tap whenever and wherever. I have still had nights out drinking and have even gone away overnight on hen parties, so I really haven’t found it constricting. I have pumped my boobs a few times when being a little worse for wear.
One thing I didn’t enjoy with Miss J was finding nursing clothes that I liked, but when Mr T came along I found an amazing Facebook page for breastfeeding mums sharing their high street, breastfeeding friendly clothes ideas, they now have a fantastic website too. It really was a god send and I wish I had known about it earlier. Second time around I’ve also found having a decent breast pump so important. With Miss J I struggled to ever pump much and hated sitting there for up to an hour doing it, but with Mr T I invested in a medela swing pump and was pumping so much that I managed to donate over 100 oz’s of milk to Oxford hospital milk bank.
For me breastfeeding has really been amazing and something I am so thankful I have been able to continue. I cherish mine and Mr T’s time every morning and night where I give him his milkies and he snuggles in close to me. One day he will no longer need me and I’ll accept that and let him go, but for now I still nourish him and he still needs me.
I have been very fortunate enough to have two children and I can tell you now that I didn’t care what gender I had, I was just grateful that I could have children and that they are healthy. People especially the older generation don’t seem to understand why when I have a perfect pigeon pair I would want to add to my family, but I do. I am certain that our family will not be complete until we have a third child. I have no preference on what gender we have and I’m pretty sure we won’t even find out, but I feel our family is still missing one tiny person.
Why do I feel the need to add to our brood? To be honest I am not sure and practically it probably isn’t the best decision, but then I see that it’s more important to have a big enough family to fill our hearts than money. I feel my decision has been slightly influenced by missing out on the first five months of Mr T’s life as I was crippled by depression and I had blocked out so much of it. I wish I could have appreciated the baby stage more with him, but now things are better I feel like I get so much from him.
I was one of two children and have grown up incredibly close with my older sister that I class her as one of my best friends. We share friends with each other and have even shared a couple of the same bridesmaids, but we couldn’t be more opposite if we tried. Not only do we look nothing alike are personalities are different, but one thing we do have in common is that we both have the most silly laugh and we can have each other in fits of laughter in seconds. I hope my children can be as close
what we have become.
As a very small child I had dreamed about having children of my own and was always playing and caring for my dolls. I actually looked forward to turning 30 as that was the age my mum had had children and that’s all I wanted. I didn’t manage to wait as long as my mum and got pregnant at 23 with Miss J. It really was the most amazing moment in my life knowing that I would be starting a family of my own.
One thing I will not be looking forward to is pregnancy, I don’t do pregnancy easily and can say besides loving having a rounded tummy and feeling the kicks I find pregnancy a massive pain in the back, hips, legs etc. The 9 months of pain are all worth it though and something I would be willing to go through again. I think I still need a couple of years to block out the pain of pregnancy and labour before I’m mentally prepared to put myself through it again.
I do have a real fear of getting PND again and how I would cope with three children and this is why I want to wait a few years first to make sure I’m mentally prepared for it. I do hope that as I have been through this, that I will recognise it earlier and be able to get the help I need before things get too much. I can’t let it be a deciding factor in my future as that would mean I have let it win and take something else from me.
I’ve found parenting difficult and I’m certainly not the earth mother I had imagined myself to be. I’ve had PND, had a breakdown and have come out the other side, but I can confidently say I’ve been a good mum, caring mum, loving mum and my children are flourishing. I want another baby, not yet, but in a few years’ time and this baby will complete our family as five.
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