Where have we been?

joandsam0919.jpg

Hello! Long time no see. I’m not going to flatter myself by starting this blog post with ‘you’ve probably been wondering why I’ve not been on insta…’, as I’m sure you’ll have coped just fine without seeing my sporadic ramblings and clips of my nutty children over the Summer. That been said…to those of you who asked me or my friends if I was ok, and particularly those who only know me online yet sought out ways to contact me to check in and say you missed my posts; I am incredibly grateful, and feel fortunate to have people like you in my corner. It’s a lovely feeling…one that I am not accustomed to, but deeply appreciate.

Firstly, let me start by saying that I’m happy to report that my little family and I are all in good health, and there is no dark (or even particularly compelling) reason for my recent online hiatus. I wish I could say it was a well-thought out decision which I came to by weighing up the pros and cons of having an internet presence, but the truth is that one day I was simply having a bad day, and scrolling wasn’t making me feel any happier…so I just made a snap decision to disable my account. I also deleted the Instagram app, as well as my Facebook app (although I kept my account active). This was to avoid absent-mindedly opening the app on auto-pilot out of pure habit, as I so very often had been doing at the time.

My immediate reaction was relief, if I’m completely honest. After the year that my family and I have had, there was a real need to ‘shut down’ and figure out exactly where my head was at, and how to be ‘normal’ once again. A lot has happened in the last year, what with Samuel’s early arrival and all of the struggles that came along with it; emotions, mental health, logistics, relationships and even money, all before we even had our chance to find our feet as a family of four, with two under two to boot. I have also been saddened by the untimely loss of one the most influential people in my life just before I decided to come off insta; a cruel and sobering reminder that life really is too short. Too short to spend on social media when for whatever reason, it’s stopped being fun.

Probably the most boring reason for needing this space was good, old-fashioned lack of time. I am running around like a lunatic pretty much constantly. The number of children has doubled, the laundry has AT LEAST doubled, the cooking has doubled (Samuel is on solids now), the mess has doubled, the stress has doubled and sleep has halved…and I’m still working to support Jack’s business. You get the picture. I am so SO lucky that things have turned out this way, and I thank my lucky stars every day to have our little family, but the truth is that some most days can be very challenging.

When I’m not performing these riveting, never-complete tasks, I want to enjoy my children. Thea started preschool this September, and it would be the last chance I’d have to be at home with both of my babies full time, ever again. Samuel spent 4 months in hospital…how would I feel about myself if I were to spend his first 4 months at home sat behind my phone, uninspired, creating no content and mindlessly scrolling? Samuel isn’t a ‘newborn’ anymore who sleeps most of the day and only wakes to eat and poo. He’s now a little person with a budding personality that would be a crime not to observe, nurture and enjoy. Particularly given his difficult start and the months of mother-baby bonding that was stripped away from us.

And Thea, she’s gone through an extremely turbulent and confusing time for a child of any age, and she’s only just turning 2 and a half. She needs consistency, love, care and attention. I have recently created a rule for myself that when we are at home and Samuel is asleep whilst Thea is awake, that any work, housework or the other are put on pause, so I can give her the undivided attention that she so greatly deserves. She’s grown up and is still growing so quickly, and I wanted this Summer to be about watching her (and Samuel) learn, play, be happy and just ‘be’, together as a family just as we had longed for and craved so badly during all those weeks and months of our lives being torn in two. They needed and continue to need their safe place at home and their Mum, more than I ‘needed’ to be on Instagram.

There is a small window of about an hour and a half after the kids go to bed, and before we do ourselves (Samuel wake-ups excluded) where I had the chance to be doing something other than aimlessly scrolling my Instagram feed. I have grown to dislike the term ‘self-care’ (don’t ask me why, I happen to think it’s extremely important, but the term itself has become so overused that I now find it a bit ‘wanky’, for lack of a better word!). Wankiness aside, I have claimed this 90 minute slot as MINE. Mine to watch reality TV; I’ll put my hands up now and admit to every single episode of this years’ Love Island & Celebs go Dating (judge me, I care not *insert sassy emoji here*), watch countless documentaries & to READ.

Not very productive in the traditional sense, but just what my mind needed. A break, a chance to jump off from the emotional rollercoaster and escape from the everyday chaos. Trash TV and ‘brain nap’ aside, reading actual books and watching interesting documentaries has given me some conversational & intellectual ammo that doesn’t involve the kids, or motherhood. That in itself is invaluable to how I feel about myself as a stay at home parent after a decade in the workplace.

Anyway, I’m back now. In what capacity, I am still unsure. I don’t want to force it, or for it to detract from being present in the moment…but I’m fortunate in that I’ve pretty much always found the insta community to be a supportive network and positive place to be, and feel like I might be ready to interact again…if you’ll have me?!

Jo XXX

Chronicles of the After-Birth #1 – ‘Rush of Love’

 

blog1

Ok, so I won’t lie…I really wasn’t up for labour. I’d always felt an undeniable fear that I would die in childbirth; that my body just wouldn’t be up to the task. Dramatic, perhaps? Well…the dread of the unknown cannot be underestimated, and the idea of what can be likened to passing a pomegranate through your nostril isn’t exactly a comfort. What women go through in order to bring a new little person into this world doesn’t have the most gleaming of reputations.

A lot of new Mothers report back that it all becomes worth it in the moment their tiny pink bundle of sticky, slimy joy is safely delivered into the world and placed on their chest, skin to skin. That they felt this incredible rush of love and wonderment take over their entire body in a delightful cocktail of hormones, like coming up on some kind of super strength MDMA.

I did not feel ANYTHING like this. At ALL. Don’t get me wrong, I was totally overwhelmed and in awe to finally meet our darling baby girl, at her beauty, and to hold her for the first time… But mostly, I was relieved and shell-shocked after reaching the end of a 2 day labour, having not slept a wink for nearly 48 hours and completely up to my eyeballs in all kinds of hospital drugs. To be honest, I felt numb. Literally and figuratively.

Thankfully, I knew it was possible for it to be the case that I wouldn’t experience the much-coveted instant ‘warm and fuzzies’…so it wasn’t the worst surprise to discover that I didn’t fall madly in love straight away. It does make me wonder though, whether some Mothers encounter their first bitter taste of ‘Mum guilt’ very early post-delivery, and may end up punishing themselves for not feeling these emotions, experiencing anxiety, or even questioning whether or not they might have PND.

I think there are a lot of expectations put on new Mothers to act and feel a certain way once their baby arrives, and to report only the instagrammable, romanticised version of birthing a child, but the reality is often that we’re tired. So, so tired. Sore. Sometimes pretty traumatised. Overwhelmed by everything we’ve just been, and are still going through.

The instinct was there to protect and love my baby from the moment I found out I was pregnant, and this only intensified once she was born. But, the love I have for her now is different. It’s a love so irrationally strong that I can unreservedly tell you that it has brought tears to my eyes, in what I suppose you could call a ‘rush of love’. It’s a love that has grown along with her as we’ve spent more and more time together, and I’ve gotten to know her little ways.

Her adorable crooked-mouth yawn. Her cheeky grin where her whole body scrunches up, so beside herself with joy that her very face may split in half and she might explode. Her tiny grunts of frustration, complete with furrowed ‘barely-there’ brow, turning pink with rage. I could go on…and I’m sure you can list a million things about your own beautiful baby that you fell for in the hours, days, weeks, months and years after their birth, even in the absence of an instant ‘love at first sight’ in L&D. It seems that for lots of Mummies, this is the way they fall in love with their baby; gradually, over time.

Either way, in the end, we all love our gorgeous little babies, and however we get there; I think we can all agree that there’s nothing quite like it. It’s true what they say; it really is just the best thing. Like, ever.

 

Chronicles of the ‘After-Birth’

image1

Before you abandon your snack and prepare to make a moue at my stories about a lingering lotus birth, preserved umbilical cords displayed in a box frame, or what a passion fruit placenta smoothie actually tastes like, let me assure you that these are not the kind ‘after birth’ experiences on which I wish to touch. Ever. Even with a very long stick. (But hey, who am I to judge if that’s what floats your boat – more power to you!)

I digress…what I mean is literally, AFTER CHILDBIRTH. I will recount a series of situations, emotions and struggles that I experienced in the early hours and days following labour that I had been completely unprepared for, and that I found out afterwards when chatting to other Mums, are actually more common than you’d think…