Being A 20s Mom

This post is the second in a mini Being A … Mom series I started a couple of weeks ago. Read the first one – Being A Sick Mom here)

13315736_10157081980625232_8989016988320722185_n

They say age is only a number. They say act your age, not your shoe size. They say all sorts of weird and wonderful things about age but who are ‘they’ and does age really matter?

Since our grandmothers were born and went on to have children themselves, the trend seems to be that we’re leaving it later and later to become mothers. I imagine a large part of that is down to the fact many women are able to have careers these days before starting a family, and the availability of contraceptives meaning we do actually have a choice about these things.

But who knows when the right time to have a child is? At 18 you might have all the energy needed to put up with sleepless nights and crawling round on the floor after a little one. In your 40s you might be more financially secure. In your teens you might still want to be out partying but when you’re older you might have become so used to freedom you don’t want to give it up.

I was 24 when I got pregnant and had turned 25 by the time Alexandra was born. I feel that was a perfect time for me as I’d had time to start my career (I went to college after my A-Levels to do a journalism course so I was 19 when I started working full time) and had enough experience under my belt to have options available to me job-wise once my maternity leave was over. But to be honest, had I been living a different life and my partner wasn’t perhaps so stable I would have probably put things off for a couple of years.

Having a secure place to live, income and a dependable other half are all massive issues in the decision. As it was, Dylan already had children so I knew he was more than ready to take on the task of becoming a dad again. A big part of it though was the fact I’d never been broody before. Yes, I’d thought about becoming a mom in the future, I’d cooed over babies I met, but I’d never had that overwhelming feeling of wanting a baby right now until we were together.

My sister’s just become a mom at 20. Personally, I can’t imagine having had a child at that age when I look back at what my life was like then. But she’s so different and in a completely different situation. She’s already proving what a fantastic mom she is when I’m pretty sure I would have been terrible at 20!

Right now I’m positive my choice to become a mom at 25 was the right one and I hope this stays true into the future (a twee ending sentence but a true one all the same!).

Harriet and Alexandra x

Operation Where’s All This Crap Meant To Go?

Alexandra's sister Cara trying out one of the numerous baby-related monstrosities in our lounge!

Alexandra’s sister Cara trying out one of the numerous baby-related monstrosities in our lounge!

So babies come with a lot of stuff, who’d have thunk it huh?

When we first started off on this whole mom/dad/baby partnership thing we’ve got going on, we of course bought quite a lot of stuff for Alexandra. However, it was all pretty much contained – all of her clothes, bedding, towels, books, teddies and some toys in her room with a nice storage box in the lounge for the rest of the toys.

Now nine and a half months in, there’s baby stuff frigging EVERYWHERE. We always get comments about how neat our house is but whenever I look in a room there seems to be all manner of shiny, brightly coloured plastic shit. The kitchen is contained as only the steriliser is out on the side with all of her bowls, cups etc in the drawers. The only sign of a baby in our bedroom now she doesn’t sleep in there is the monitor. The second bedroom where Alex’s sister sleeps when she’s here is also fairly okay unless I’m in the middle of an eBay clear out when we’re swapping Alex’s clothes for the next size up.

In the bathroom I thought we were on to a winner when we discarded the baby bath when she was big enough to sit up unaided. Instead we’ve managed to acquire about 455,262,366 bath toys so you’re never on your own in there and you’re instead being eyed up by a fleet of ducks, some whales and the cast of the Hungry Caterpillar.

The lounge is definitely the worst though! Right now in here we have a jumparoo, which itself seems to be the size of a small planet and rigged up with magnets so your toes are attracted to it and you trip over it multiple times a day; a baby gym and playmat; highchair; bouncer and a whacking great playpen. I tidy up after her multiple times a day (read constantly), but considering how obtrusive all her stuff is I might as well just give up and resign myself that the colour scheme is now ‘bright and clashing’ with a definite plastic theme.

As it’s going to be many, many years before she locks herself in her bedroom constantly engrossed in whatever the 2030s version of MSN Messenger is, I think I’m just going to have to get used to tripping over stuff all the time!

Harriet and Alexandra x

Being A Sick Mom

image

Last night I got to thinking while I was washing up about what makes a good mom. What kind of mom I want to be. I’ve thought about it before but it crossed my mind again then. This morning while I was doing my eyebrows I start thinking about being an ‘ill’ mom and what the implications of that were. That sparked off a thought about the fact there are many different types of moms we each are, or aspire to be – whether it’s a ‘fun mom’, a ‘good example mom’, a ‘young mom’ etc. So I thought I’d explore some of these in the upcoming weeks on the blog. Starting with the one that’s probably been the most unexpected and most challenging one for me: being an unwell mom. Not sick as in cool, do the kids even say that these days?

Being unwell, wherever you are on the spectrum between slightly unwell for a short period of time or being drastically ill or permanently disabled throws up extra challenges. You may have known about your condition or illness beforehand and had the change to prep a little, you may have it thrown at you unexpectedly.

As I was most acutely unwell in the first ten weeks of Alexandra’s life, for me the impact was not getting to bond properly with her, not getting to learn how to be her mom in those first precious months, not physically spending as much time with her as you’d expect to get with a newborn ie 24/7. I missed her first smiles, her first set of jabs, her eight week check up, night feeds and so many cuddles

I didn’t look after her completely on my own for any length of time until she was about 14 weeks old and when I did it was both a physical and an emotional challenge. I had to think my way through everything – how would I get her up and down the stairs (answer: I just didn’t until I was strong enough to get her and myself around), how would I change her nappies and clothes (answer: I learned to do everything differently, from poppers to bottles). I had to work out I could feed her if I held her with my right arm, which meant I wasn’t using my dodgy hand and then my good hand was free to hold the bottle.

Now if you saw me out on the street you probably wouldn’t see any difference between me and any of the other moms out there. But everything has been harder, everything has come slower, I still find myself facing situations every day where I struggle a bit more than I would have done before.

As she grows up, Alex probably won’t notice a huge difference between me and her friends’ moms although there will always be the little signs. I’ll always be on meds, we don’t think I’ll ever have full feeling in my hand (although there have been improvements in recent weeks), I’ll never join her if she decides she wants to follow daddy and go diving, she’ll never see me drink alcohol and of course she’ll never have a little brother or sister.

When the time comes we will have to explain those things to her, but I guess she will never know any different so it will all seem normal, whereas for us it’s taken a lot of getting used to (I’m still not there with it all). All in all, I feel incredibly lucky to now be at the stage where I can parent her fairly effectively. Where I can have her every day by myself without assistance. Where I can play with her, take her out and see to her everyday needs.

Being a sick mom hasn’t been easy to come to terms with and I feel like we’ve had a harder journey than most but I count myself incredibly lucky because there are three things which would have been far, far worse: if the illness had denied me of the chance to have a baby, if its impact had been much more severe and I’d not been able to take on her day to day care, or of course if I hadn’t made it. Being an ill mom is definitely infinitely better than being a dead mom.

Harriet and Alexandra X

How To Prepare For Motherhood

13335672_10157040455795232_3135189684108767703_n

They say nothing can prepare you for the whirlwind of motherhood and I wouldn’t like to claim to be an expert since I’ve only been in the job since last August. But here’s a few of my thoughts on ways you could prepare to become the mother of a nine-month-old baby.

Attempt to wrestle a live octopus into an item of clothing with at least 500 buttons, poppers and zips. Extra points if you button it up right the first time, or even the seventh time.
Grow a third arm.
Balance something very delicate, perhaps an egg, somewhere where it’s likely to fall to the ground and smash. Practice turning away for a second, turning back and then using some sort of superhuman skill to run back to the egg and catch it before it smashes.
Chew everything you own to check you prefer it slightly dog-eared, torn and battered.
Play the same ten-second segment of music to yourself on repeat over and over again until you hear it in your dreams.
Smear sick, dribble, yoghurt and snot on all of your clothing.
Carry about a 20lb weight all day, while getting someone to poke your eyes, put their fingers up your nose and pull your hair.
Start eating all your meals in secret so they don’t get stolen.
Get someone to follow you around all day saying ‘dada dada dada’ and ‘nana nana nana’ repeatedly to check it won’t send you insane.
Grow a fourth arm.

Harriet and Alexandra x

9 Months On

You forget how much they've grown until you put them next to a newborn!

You forget how much they’ve grown until you put them next to a newborn!

Three quarters of a year has passed since the lovely little human being we called Alexandra entered our lives. She turned nine months old on May 29 and what a nine months it’s been!

Alex is now moving around using a complicated system of rolls, commando crawling and odd frog hopping. Some of it looks a bit dramatic, like the end of an action film where the hero is desperately trying to crawl to safety using the last ounce of his strength before he pegs it. But still, it’s a form of movement! And no doubt proper crawling will happen very soon as she’s making huge progress every day and she gets up into the crawling position and rocks backwards and forwards.

She’s also moving between positions much more easily, trying to pull herself up from sitting to standing or lying down to sitting. It’s quite bizarre to get used to, when you’ve spent months leaving the baby in one place and coming back to see the baby in the same place and now baby can be halfway across the room in an instant.

Food wise she’s still having three bottles a day (hopefully soon to be reduced to two) and three meals. She absolutely loves food and has just got to the stage where she’ll cry if we’re eating and she’s not. She wants to eat anything and everything we’ve got and is particularly fond of oranges, yoghurt and any type of bread, but really isn’t fussy and will eat anything put in front of her. She’s also very good at drinking water out of her sippy cup too.

On the sleep front, we’re still generally getting around 12 hours from her overnight (from around 8.30pm) although sometimes she wakes for a minute or two wanting her dummy to be put in. We really can’t complain at all! In the day she tends to have around twenty minutes or so in the morning then maybe one or two naps in the afternoon, of varying lengths.

She absolutely loves going on the swings, hasn’t quite mastered the art of being gentle yet (either with mommy or her friends), still loves daddy more than anyone else in the world, doesn’t quite know what to make of her tiny cousin Zachary and is still a gummy bear with a grand total of zero teeth.

Harriet and Alexandra x