Guess who’s back?

Okay so I have decided to jump aboard the ole blogging train again. I’ve been doing a fair bit of reporting at work again and realised just how much I missed writing. I also realised just how rusty and out of practise I am and you know what they say practise makes perfect 🙂

So here it is the dawning of a new era. Newsroom to Nursery is back!

This year has been so crazy and is only going to get crazier. So far this year I have returned to work three days a week and trained for and finished a half-marathon. I have also been busy planning The Boy and mine’s wedding which will be in October, not to mention being a mother, maintaining the home and enjoying an active social life. Just to make things even crazier I am now training for my first-ever full marathon which is in September. Yep that’s 42.195km craaaaaazy!

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Luckily I thrive on being busy and a little stressed. I think having something to strive for at all times is important in maintaining sanity and focus in life especially now that I am a mother.

Flashback to when I was pregnant and I remember being petrified I’d lose my sense of self – I can confidently say this has not happened. If anything since becoming a mother I have a higher sense of self and I have become more aware of who I am. Mums out there who are feeling lost and consumed by motherhood – I implore you all to take some time out for yourself, find something you love doing and just do it! My life-saver has been running but I will leave that for another post entirely.

The Baby – who from now on will be referred to as the Curly-Haired Monster – turned one two weeks ago. ONE WHOLE YEAR. I can’t believe how fast those twelve months have flown by.

The Boy and I threw a party for him – a Pirate Party to be precise – and we had about forty friends and family over for the momentous occasion.

Instead of having the usual day-time kids’ party we kicked things off about 3pm and didn’t finish up until 2.30am. The Curly-Haired Monster was in bed by 8pm but then it was time for mummy and daddy to celebrate – we survived our first year as parents yippee!

Needless to say we were pretty knackered the next day especially with a 5.30am wake-up call from the mini-human.

The party was so different to the usual shindigs The Boy and I are used to throwing – there were kids everywhere. Admittedly I was quite overwhelmed to begin with but after a few wines I felt much better.

He was very spoilt with not just love but a ton of gifts. The Boy and I have kept toy-buying to an absolute minimum as we would rather spend our cash on experiences – like holidaying  – not plastic which will end up in landfill however now our living area is covered in the Curly-Haired Monster’s things. While he loves all of his amazing new things his favourite activity is pulling the rubbish out of the kitchen recycle bin or emptying the Tupperware cupboard and pantry.

We also refrain from giving him any sugar or junk food because after all he is only one! However he was very lucky to have not one but three birthday cakes. The Boy constructed a pirate-ship cake for his actual birthday which we let the Curly-Haired Monster smash – he loved every second of it – and then he built a bigger version for the party. I also baked – packet mix because I fail at baking from scratch – red-velvet cupcakes which were personalised with his name, age and pirate hat. All cakes were a massive hit. I think everyone had a good time – but most importantly the birthday boy did.

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*sigh* I still can’t believe he is one – he will be moving out before I know it …

 

It’s all happening

Oh hai there abandoned blog .. I finally have something to post about – yippee!

In four sleeps I make my return to the newsdesk after almost 12 months of maternity leave. I am excited, nervous and apprehensive. Not to mention there is a tad bit of guilt creeping in for good measure. I will be working two days for six months before returning for either three days or full-time depending on how I feel.

My fabulous mother will be watching The Baby for one day and the other day he will be going to day care.

I am looking forward to working again, I really am. Some people work because they have to while others work because they want to. I fit into the latter category. I can’t wait to immerse myself into the news again and get my brain cranking – although it might take a couple of weeks for that to happen!

Since I have been on leave my office has had a dramatic makeover so I can’t wait to sit at my new desk with my new equipment. I also have a team now – whereas before it was just me so that is also something I look forward to.

Being surrounded by adults and having proper conversation which does not revolve around parenting and babies is also going to be a breath of fresh air. Dressing for the office and not for comfort and practicality is something I oddly long for. As are takeaway coffees, long lunches and office gossip with the other journos.

However at the same time I wonder how on earth will I be able to get The Baby ready, get myself ready and have the house looking presentable all by 7.30am. Will he notice I am gone and resent me? Or will he barely bat an eyelid and love spending time with his Nanny and make new baby friends at day care? I am fairly confident it will be the latter as he is a very social little boy and loves people especially mini-humans.

Will I still go running after work? I am currently in training for my first-ever half-marathon (28 days to go – eek!) and I cannot miss any self-imposed training sessions. I know I will want to go but will I feel guilty about leaving The Baby for an extra hour on top of the nine I have already left him for?

How will we eat dinner before midnight on my two working days? I am thinking slow-cooker at this stage or meal prep. Or convince The Boy it is his job as he finishes work a few hours before me.

Do I let The Baby eat day-care food or prepare food for him to bring? What if he gets sick – he has yet to get sick (touch wood). How will I work productively if we have had a shocking night before and have had barely any sleep?

I also fear the house will end up looking like a crack den because I would not have had time to clean during the day. Sometimes I wish I was one of those people who can handle a bit of mess but I can’t it gives me anxiety. When I go back full-time I am seriously considering a cleaning lady come through once per week. The last thing I want to be doing on weekends is cleaning – ain’t nobody got time for that!

Do I have a tendency to over-think things? YES!

Ugh I am sure everything will be fine and I am just being over-dramatic. Just typing this all out has made me feel better about the whole situation.

The Baby is nine months old tomorrow. NINE MONTHS. Which means in three months he will be one. OMG. Yes I am already planning his party in my head.

He is an itty-bitty thing – so itty bitty he wasn’t even on the chart for his weight at his eight-month check up and was in the bottom-half percentile for height. Small things come in good packages, just look at his mum 😉

He has four teeth and is crawling. This week he started climbing and standing while holding onto things. We bought him a walker despite vowing never to and he doesn’t like it thankfully as he prefers to explore on all fours. So now we are selling the walker.

He is very chatty and almost always happy. I don’t want to jinx it but he sleeps through the night too. Sometimes he doesn’t but more often than not he does.

Like his mum he loves his food and enjoys feeding himself. I call him my curly-haired monster because also like his mum (when I was a baby) he has super curly hair.

It’s hard to tell who he looks like the most. He is a good mixture of the two of us I think. He has inherited our love for music and socialising which is good to see. He is also very independent and is happy to entertain himself.

One thing which has happened just this week and has saddened me is he no longer wants the boob. I wanted to breastfeed for at least a year however he has decided otherwise. I still persevere but he is not into it and prefers to bite me and it bloody hurts. I am determined to keep trying but I think we (more like me) will have to move on soon. He does look ridiculously cute feeding himself his bottle though.

It amazes me how fast the past nine months have flown by and I can’t wait to see what the next nine months bring.

If any working mums have any advice for me shoot away!

A cloud hangs over

English: Miranda Kerr at a book signing.

If I see one more headline featuring 'super-mum' Miranda Kerr I'm going to lose it.

About 10 years ago I was told by my doctor that due to suffering from anxiety I would be more susceptible to post-natal depression than most.

At the age of 19 I didn’t really think about it too much as having children was the furthest thing from my mind but lately it’s been weighing on me a bit.

For the past week or so I’ve been feeling low, my insomnia has returned with a vengeance and I even had a mild anxiety attack the other morning. These feelings are at their worst when I first wake up. I don’t want to get out of bed and quite often I get teary. At night my mind races at a mile a minute and during the day I am so tired it hurts.

A line from one of my favourite songs describes it best – ‘a cloud hangs over and mutes my happiness’.

That’s not what concerns me as I’ve been putting up with this sort of thing on and off for about a decade and I’ve learnt to deal with it. I find it more annoying than anything. However if these feelings do continue and it starts to become a problem I will speak to my doctor about it.

What concerns me is the lack of discussion about antenatal and postnatal depression.

There’s so much talk about birth, breastfeeding and parenting yet it seems no one wants to talk about this issue which according to Beyond Blue affects one in six mothers while antenatal depression affects up to 10 per cent of expectant mothers.

Antenatal depression occurs during pregnancy while postnatal depression can occur one month or even year after giving birth and has the same characteristics as depression. Beyond Blue has a PND checklist which is worth checking out if you or someone you know may be suffering from the illness.

It’s important to note PND is different from the ‘baby blues’ which develops pretty much straight away, is considered ‘normal’ and fades away after a few days.

Some mothers are more at risk than others when it comes to developing PND.

“Like depression which occurs at any other time, PND doesn’t have one definite cause – but it’s likely to result from a combination of factors. A mixture of physical, biological and hormonal factors seem to put women at risk of experiencing depression following the birth of a baby including:

  • a past history of depression and/or anxiety
  • a stressful pregnancy
  • depression during the current pregnancy
  • a family history of mental disorders
  • experiencing severe ‘baby blues’
  • a prolonged labour and/or delivery complications
  • problems with the baby’s health
  • difficulty breastfeeding

Social and psychological risk factors may include:

  • a lack of practical, financial and/or emotional support
  • past history of abuse
  • difficulties in close relationships
  • being a single parent
  • having an unsettled baby (i.e. difficulties with feeding and sleeping)
  • having unrealistic expectations about motherhood including: mothers bond with their babies straight away, mothers know instinctively what to do and/or motherhood is a time of joy
  • moving house
  • making work adjustments (e.g. stopping or re-starting work).
  • leep deprivation

Source: www.beyondblue.org.au

I’m no medical expert but I’d like to add ‘pressure to be perfect’ to that list.

There is so much pressure for new mothers to be super mums these days and I’ll admit the mass media’s portrayal of mothers has a lot to do with it. Its infatuation with new mums such as Victoria’s Secret models Miranda Kerr and Alessandra Ambrosio and how they got their bodies back, how easy motherhood is and how being a mother is ‘the best job in the world’ is sickening.

It’s also not reality.

Why don’t we ever hear about what those first few months or year is really like? Instead we are bombarded with glossy airbrushed images of celebrity in bikinis six weeks after giving birth and interviews of them espousing how motherhood is a breeze. I call bullshit.

The women who buy these magazines are also at fault for feeding the machine which continues to project this false image. Ladies stop buying them!

Why don’t we ever hear or talk about the fears new mums have? Is it a sign of weakness to reveal how we are really feeling? Does it make a woman less of a mother if she admits she’s not coping? What’s with all the competitiveness between mothers? Perhaps if there was more discussion and openness surrounding these mental health issues less mothers would suffer from antenatal and postnatal depression. One in six is a very concerning statistic.

I’m not ashamed to admit it, I am petrified of becoming a mother – PETRIFIED! I barely know how to hold a baby, I’m sure I’m going to lose the plot if I can’t get he/she to stop crying, the thought of being at home all day with barely any adult interaction gives me anxiety and I have ZERO maternal instinct.

I absolutely love being pregnant, childbirth doesn’t faze me too much but it’s what comes after which scares the hell out of me.

Just once when I tell a friend or family member my fears it’d be nice for some truth or advice rather than the generic – ‘oh you’ll be fine’, ‘it’ll kick in once the baby’s born’ or ‘it’s different when it’s your own’ followed by a swift change of subject. These sorts of responses only add to my anxiety.

What if it’s not? What if I become the one out of six? If that is the case I hope I will be strong enough to ask for help rather than keep up the façade that all is well. Because at the end of the day if mum isn’t happy or coping how is that mini-human meant to have the best start to life?

If you aren’t coping – please ask for help from a supportive partner, friends or family and talk to a health professional.Here are some tips for helping yourself.

Or if someone you know looks like they’re not coping give them a hand, listen to their fears. Sometimes just talking is enough.

Maternally yours, Not Ashamed.

Baby showers – tacky, unnecessary and not for me

The popular baby shower gift – a nappy cake – they’re not even cloth! Photo:Chinglish/Flickr

A number of people have been asking me lately if I’ll be throwing a baby shower. To which I reply absolutely not. No way. Not a chance in hell. Non.

I’d rather be hit over the head repeatedly with a nappy cake or listen to endless talk about perineal massage than have to endure the pain of being the centre of attention at such an event.

A fellow mum-to-be – who is having a baby shower – asked me the other day why I was so against the idea.

I gave her the sharp simple answer of ‘they’re tacky and unnecessary’ which is how I also feel about Hens’ Nights. Penis straws, strippers, bride-to-be sashes, stretch hummers – ah no thanks.

The days of inviting a handful of your closest girlfriends over to celebrate your impending motherhood while sipping tea, eating cake, gossiping and receiving knitted booties are long gone.

No these days it’s all about fancy petit fours, the aforementioned nappy cakes, games and baby registries. And you can forget about waiting until your guests have left before opening any gifts in private. It’s now de rigueur to open gifts during the baby shower so your nearest and dearest can compete to see who brought the best gift see what presents have been bestowed upon you with coos of ooh and ahh. This is my idea of hell.

A good friend of mine – let’s call her The German – was recently forced asked to attend an expectant mother’s baby shower and was horrified to learn it’s not the thought that counts anymore it’s about who could spend the most moolah. The German who was confident her gift of boutique-bought booties would suffice turned into an anxious mess during the two-hour ceremonial unwrapping of the presents as mum-to-be revealed mountainous hampers filled with luxury goods, designer-label clothing and not a single gift without a price-tag of at least $100 or more. Capping this off the mothers decided to present their expertly-wrapped gifts still in the designer-shopping bags they were bought with. Predictably there wasn’t a plastic Kmart or Target bag in sight.

I realise not all baby showers are such (s)wanky affairs but I couldn’t bear to have my friends feeling so much pressure about what to buy. Which brings me to baby registries. *sigh* Where do I even begin.

I’m fussy when it comes to receiving gifts. Frustratingly fussy some would say. I’m the type of person who writes lists at Christmas and hands them out to loved ones with one strict instruction – do not divert from the list! I also know I’d more than likely dislike at least half the gifts I’d receive at a baby shower. So you’d think I’d be all for the idea of having a baby registry but alas it’s the very opposite. In my opinion baby registries are the height of arrogance and rudeness.

It’s one thing to hold a baby shower and have a gift table ready but to then take it that step further and basically demand your friends shower you with gifts – without diverting from the list you’ve just sent out – is another. Once again there’s going to be pressure. I imagine considerate expectant mothers would include gifts which range in price but let’s just say Friend A is strapped for cash that week so chooses from the not-so pricey end of the scale while Friend B who lives off a double income chooses from the pricey end. Now it’s time for the public giving of the gifts – how do you think Friend A is going to feel? Like hiding under the gift table I’d imagine.

The German tells me she was invited to another baby shower not long after the one mentioned above and included with the invite was a card with details of a baby registry. She politely declined.

Something else I have always wondered – if you’re invited to a baby shower and give a gift does this mean you don’t have to buy a present when the baby is born?

Another sour point for me is why is it a women-only affair? What about dad? Why don’t his mates get a Guernsey? Why do they get to head to the golf course or catch up over a few ice-cold ones while poor mum-to-be is being cornered in her own lounge room with a group of women hell-bent on reliving their own horrifying tales of childbirth and motherhood. Why aren’t the blokes forced to sniff nappies soiled with varying brown substances and then asked to name said substance?

Ah yes baby shower games. I was certain the days of playing party games which didn’t involve alcohol were over. Apparently not. Admittedly I’ve never had the displeasure of participating in one of the myriad of games designed to entertain a mum-to-be and her guests. Thank God.

The ‘name that dirty diaper’ game goes like this …

‘Buy a variety of chocolate bars. Right before the shower, melt each one down in the microwave and smear it into a disposable diaper. You’ll be asking the guests to examine the diapers and figure out what types of candy bars they’ve been dirtied with. Be forewarned: Some guests will be pretty grossed out!

Make sure you number the diapers and keep track of which bar is where. During the shower, set out the diapers for the guests to examine and smell. (If you want to make the guessing a little easier, you can also display the candy bar wrappers.)

Have each guest write down a numbered list indicating which type of chocolate bar is in which diaper. The one with the most correct guesses wins.’

Source: http://www.babycenter.com/0_baby-shower-games-goofy-and-silly_10300206.bc

Gross and not to mention an awful waste of chocolate!

As well as the name that dirty diaper game, there is guess how round expectant mum’s bump is – this would send me into premature labour if my guests estimated my girth to be not dissimilar to that of a whale’s – pin the sperm on the egg (!), the race to see who can skol out of a baby bottle the fastest (alcohol-free of course) and my personal favourite – bobbing for nipples.

‘Instead of apples, try bobbing for nipples. This tends to be a hit with the guys and is pretty hysterical to watch!

Fill a large tub with water and drop in some baby bottle nipples. Have the willing participants take turns trying to grab one in their teeth. You can also time the game and see how many nipples each person can nab in a certain amount of time, then give a prize to the winner.’

Source: http://www.babycenter.com/0_baby-shower-games-goofy-and-silly_10300206.bc

Umm how about no.

So this is why I most definitely won’t be having a baby shower. If friends and family want to throw me one they can go right ahead just don’t expect me to be a part of it. I’ll be down the pub with The Boy and his mates– talking footy and sipping soda, lemon and lime.

Maternally yours, I-Don’t-Do-Baby-Showers

 

What about me?

What if I give up on my achieving my goals?

With impending motherhood also comes a million and one anxieties. Those thoughts that keep you awake at night – will I be a good mother, what if I can’t breast feed, what if I can’t bond with my baby or suffer post-natal depression and God forbid what if he/she isn’t the next Beyonce or Justin Timberlake?

These issues can be readily solved – shower he/she with love, get over it and use a bottle, ask for help and goddamnit pay for extra dancing/singing lessons.

But the one thing making me lose sleep at the moment is the thought of losing my identity. What if I forget who I was before I was a mother? What if I let my goals/dreams and ambitions fall by the wayside for good? What if I forget the things I’m so passionate about? What if I start handing out Mummy cards?

I don’t want to just be known as so-and-so’s mum.

I’m not downplaying the amazing job mothers do and I know there are many out there who are more than happy to be forever known as so-and-so’s mum. But for me that’s not enough.

We all know that mother who has become a shadow of her former self. She was the life of the party, had her own opinions, had interests/hobbies, ambitions and a zest for life. Then she had kids. Now you struggle to have a conversation with her because motherhood has overtaken every facet of her life. All she talks about is what her children or partner is up to. What about yourself, you find yourself asking. ‘Oh no I’m much too busy with the kids/house to have time for myself’ she says rather hurriedly.

From the outset they seem content but I find myself wondering where their former self has run off to. Have they noticed the change? Do they miss who they were? Do they wish things were different? I’m sure deep down a part of them is screaming ‘what about me!’

I see myself as independent, strong-willed, ambitious and I admit it I’m a little bit of a narcissist – I’m writing a blog after all. Since becoming pregnant I’ve noticed a softer side starting to emerge and once the baby arrives I know I’m going to change even more but I still want to be me.

Obviously family will always be my number one priority but I also believe we all need to look out for number one – ourselves.

I want to be a role model to my children. I want to show them how important it is to have goals, ambition and a range of interests. I want them to see me as a strong independent well-rounded woman who has a life outside of being their mother and not just a cook, cleaner and housewife. I want them to be as proud of me as I will be of them. The thought of me giving up all the things I’ve worked so hard to achieve both professionally and personally scares the bejesus out of me. At this stage I will be taking a year off from work once the baby is born. But to be honest from then it’s anyone’s guess, I’m not going to know how I feel until the time comes. If I choose to return to work that’s fine and if I choose not to then I’m happy with that too. What I won’t be happy with is if I just turn my back on myself.

How dear reader do I prevent this from happening? I have no idea, and unfortunately I don’t have a crystal ball to see what the future holds so in the meantime I’m going to set a few personal goals for the next year or two and go from there. They’re entirely selfish but to me a happy, fulfilled mum means a happy, fulfilled child. What do you think? Have you lost your identity since becoming a mum? Do you know someone who has? How did you keep your identity? I’d love to know your thoughts.

Personal Goals for 2012-13

  • Work on finishing my Masters in a timely fashion.
  • Run this year’s City2Surf – even if it’s just the 5km leg.
  • Plan the wedding and get married.
  • Write at least once per week, every week.
  • Devote time to keeping the relationship between me and The Boy fresh and fun.
  • Date nights – have at least one child-free night per month.
  • Exercise five times per week and live a healthy lifestyle.
  • Catch up with friends at least once per month.
  • Have at least half an hour of relaxing me-time every day.
  • Regular family holidays – even if it’s just a night away from home.
  • New Zealand in 2013.
  • Get the ball rolling to become a Les Mills fitness instructor.
  • Join a Mothers’ Group.
  • Keep learning/have an active mind.
  • Never, ever be seen wearing track pants away from the home (this one is really important).

Maternally yours, ME!