A Type of Mum Culture We Need to Say Goodbye to

motherhood, Uncategorized

On my mat leave, I was never the mum who went to baby clubs. I was terrified of them, in fact. Baby changing and feeding rooms were panic inducing for me and soft play completely off limits unless Rob or good friends were by my side. But, why?

The above statement seems dramatic, but it’s totally necessary. You see, there is a mum culture that I have had enough of and want no part in. It’s the school gate gossip, cliquey, judgemental groups. The people who cast their opinions upon you after just a glance. The ones who want to fit you into a pigeon hole, a niche, and want you to stay there.

My first year of motherhood was an unexpected one. It bought with it so much joy, but it was a massive learning curve for me when it came to other mothers and the attitudes of other people. Taken aback from my experiences, I am also so grateful at what it taught me.

I went to a baby group at my local library when Ted was a few months old. Previous to that, I’d never really socialised with mums I didn’t already know. It was daunting and I spent the night before awake and worrying about the finer details- when I’d need to leave the house, how long it’d take for me to get there, how early I’d need to be, whether I needed to set an alarm, what I should wear.

Waking up the next morning, I put on my absolute go-to outfit. A checked mini skirt and a roll neck. I sat and did my make-up on the sofa while Ted was feeding, drank my coffee, and felt excited at who I might meet or who I might connect with. I always remember my mum saying to me beforehand that even though baby classes weren’t my thing and didn’t appeal to me (I’m a massive introvert and find it hard to trust people) that there would be someone there that felt the exact same way as me. That was all the reassurance I needed.

I arrived. Mums gathered in familiar groups. I said hello to each group as I walked in. A few reluctantly said hello back. I smiled. A few smiled back half smiles, the others ignored me. I tried hard to mingle, complimenting other mums. For example, one mum was tandem feeding on a soft play bench and I told her how amazing she was doing. She smiled and I felt safe. I sat next to her and fed Ted too.

Five minutes later, another mum came over, followed by two more. They were friends with this lady, and she introduced me to them.

No hello. No ‘nice to meet you.’ Just, simply:

“You’re a little overdressed for a baby class.’

Silence. I said nothing. I felt weak. I carried on feeding Ted and looked to the floor.

Ten minutes later:

‘How did you have that much time to get ready?’

I replied explaining that I’d been awake very early and that I did my make up while feeding my son.

‘I don’t think this is really your sort of place is it?’

There was an expectation that now that I’m a mum, I should have a messy mum bun and be wearing a hoody, jeans and trainers with sick down the front, minimal make-up, if any at all. Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally okay to be that mum too. I am that mum on some days. But today is made an effort because I was nervous and because that’s how I felt most comfortable meeting new people. The point is it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter.

I distinctly remember at that moment, looking around the room at the variety of faces staring back at me, and not understanding why anyone would be someone who was ‘different’ or didn’t belong there. It was a room full of diverse, beautiful women, all feeding their babies in different ways, all dressed differently too, and I’d never felt so secluded and singled out.

Not long after I was sat at the park where I was told by another mother that I was disgusting for breastfeeding.

And again, not long after that I was sat in the feeding room in Mothercare and a woman told me that I needed to leave because breastfeeding was wrong. Yep. In an actual FEEDING room.

I was then unfortunately put in another situation with a group of women where I overheard them on numerous occasions talking about me. One of their children even said to them in front of me once ‘look who is here mum! It’s her! Shush!’ I apparently believed I was ‘better than them’ and one of them even made comments about Ted’s behaviour (he was just over 1 at the time) when in reality they’d never spoken to me properly, knew nothing about me and were judging me based on perception. Luckily I don’t have to see those people anymore, and I’m also really lucky to have had a good friend who was also involved with this group of women and her and her partner helped me massively with this situation. Never having to see that group again is an absolute blessing.

Firstly, let’s remember that we are all completely different people, with totally different priorities, interests, agendas, opinions, thoughts, the lot! Being different is what makes the world what it is.

Secondly, when was it okay to make other people feel like this anyway?

My perspective on the world changed for a while after all of this. I focused on doing the exact opposite of what others made me feel. No matter how bad someone made me feel, or makes me feel, I won’t stop treating them with kindness. More often than not, people are behaving in that way because they are feeling bad. More often than not, this is a defence mechanism and your kindness with shock them. Be the bigger person and pretend you’re not bothered, even if like me at the time, you really are. The world is much bigger than the pettiness we are forced into. Cry about what has happened. Complain to your friends. And then move on.

There’s a competitive nature to all of this that I am just not a fan of, and it’s something I’ll talk about in a future blog. When mums work together, wonderful things happen. Woman power is like a super power, and oh my god can we change the world when that force is combined rather than a rivalry. Please please please, when you see that awkward new mum forcing a smile and holding her newborn at your next baby class, clearly looking for friendship and a good chat, ask her how she is. Ask her if she wants to sit with you and find out all about her. Ask her if she wants to get coffee afterwards. Be kind and love each other, because being a mumma is tough enough as it is and tearing each other down is not okay on any level.

Emily’s Story: PTSD

birth, Labour Stories, Mental Health, Mum

No matter how many times women told me never to plan my birth, I still had visions of how I hoped it would pan out.

Being one of the first in my friendship group to have a baby, I lacked experience or knowledge with what labour was going to be like but it didn’t scare me in the slightest. I was doing everything the blogs told me not to do. Watching one born every minute, buying girls clothes even though she had her legs crossed in her 20 week scan and reading labour stories which sounded like fairy tales.

I almost felt excited when I had a first twinge of brackston hicks despite being uncomfortable, I knew I was coming close to the third trimester and very soon I’d get to hold my little one.

However, at 32 weeks, when I thought I was just going to hospital because I was being paranoid, motherly instinct proved right and I was in fact going into pre term labour. I barely had a moment to blink before I was rushed into theatre with medical professionals running around me throwing their medical jargon at each other whilst I’m just lying there, still unaware of what fate had for me and my daughter. The only way I can describe the experience is I thought the world was ending. I hadn’t even begun my maternity leave let alone had a moment to pack a hospital bag or sort out the nursery. None of that seemed to matter after I heard her first cry behind the white sheet that separated us. All I could think is that she was alive and breathing! Thank goodness!

My little girl was born on the 4th November weighing 5Ibs. My bond with her was instant but an overwhelming sense of mourning clouded over me.
Why me? What had I done to my body that caused this? Questions I might never know but looking back these feelings of self blame were just the beginning of what was to come.

Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and this cloud wasn’t going away. I didn’t feel depressed, I didn’t feel a lack of bond with my daughter but I still felt loss… fear…. and vivid dreams of those awful hospital machines beeping around my daughter. I lost all sense of trust with medical professionals who I thought were going to tell me my baby was dying or she needed to be taken into hospital again. My anxiety over the health of my daughter became so drilled into my life that I couldn’t leave her with anyone alone.. not even my partner. I was living in isolation and refused to let anyone in.

It wasn’t until my health visitor suggested 6 weeks of counselling that I had ever heard the diagnosis of PTSD in post-natal women. What? I thought that was only diagnosed for people in the military?”

It took a while for me to come to terms with such a term and initially I felt really angry I’d been thrown yet another title. “Another medical professional trying to pass me off with a “condition” and try and load me with more medication,” I thought.

However, it wasn’t the case at all. The more I off loaded in these sessions, the more I realised how lucky I was to have met my counsellor who finally gave me an answer and I accepted what it is. I had PTSD and was suffering from my traumatic birth experience.

I will never know how it feels to hold my daughter moments after she was born, never know how it feels to have her latch for the first time, never experience bringing her back to the ward, never have her lie in her bed next to me, never change her nappy for the first time or get her dressed into her first outfit. Yet, even though I missed these precious moments, one thing I will definitely know forever is how lucky I am to have a healthy and happy daughter who has one strong mummy.

I am now in my second year of nurse training and hope that my story can influence others to seek help with PTSD and to avoid making assumptions that these feelings signify post natal depression. PTSD can happen to any woman who has experienced trauma during their birth.

A year on and I still have triggers that make things a little difficult. However, I don’t dwell on the what ifs, instead I focus on the what is. I haven’t let ptsd shatter the prospect of having further children but for now I just watch in awe of my daughter who is our little shining star and I am forever blessed to have given birth to such a fighter. We love you darling!

A Week in the Wardrobe of Ted

baby, Baby Style

I get asked a lot of questions about where I find Ted’s clothes, and often people assume I spend a fortune on him. Truth is, I love a good bargain, and almost always refuse to buy anything unless it’s reduced or in the sale. Ted is now 7 months, but wearing 9-12 month clothes because he has long legs, so I have no other choice but buying cheap as he is whizzing through sizes. Cheap, however, does not mean poor quality.

Now it is no secret that I am obsessed with clothes. When I found out I was having a boy, people commented on how much fun I’d have dressing a little girl, but having a boy can be just as exciting, although the clothes are usually limited in style and colours. I do dream of the days of pink and gingham and ribbons, but until then tracksuits and trainers will do! Have a look below at a weeks worth of Ted’s outfits:

Thursday

This little red tracksuit we have had since Ted was about 2 months old and he has just grown out of it. It makes me so sad that he won’t wear it again, but we have definitely had our money’s worth. It always looks great with a white or grey t-shirt underneath and is easy to layer. This grey and red striped top came with a 3 pack of London themed tees from Mothercare. Ted has outgrown his pram shoes now, so unless I can 12-18 month pram shoes, he has to wear proper shoes. I’ve only managed to find that size in Next and Mothercare, but I’m not complaining and neither is Ted about wearing these Adidas Superstars! Sporty little ensemble, perfect for fun at the park with his cousin.

Friday


Adidas again today! There is still lots of growth in this one, which I’m really happy about. I love Ted in grey and blue, so loved this colour combo. This tracksuit is much comfier than the red one for him, so ideal whilst learning how to crawl. I’m always on the lookout for cheap Nike and Adidas clothes for Ted, as Rob really likes him in them too as they are some of his favourite brands. These trainers were from Mothercare and reduced to £2 in the sale. I love Ted in anything dinosaur, and love that these are jazzed up at the back to look like a mini Stegosaurus! This hat was a Debenhams bargain costing £3 in the sale and I am absolutely obsessed with him in it. Naturally, his name being Ted, anything bear related I love.

Saturday

Saturdays are normally a busy day for us, juggling friends, family and cleaning. This Mantaray romper is so easy to chuck on but makes Ted look so grown up, it’s scary! This was another Debenhams bargain at £6. The tones look great on him and paired up with these smart grey desert boots (that Ted mainly likes to undo the laces of and chew) and fox hat creates a good winter to spring wardrobe transition whilst the weather is still baffling all of us.

Sunday

Sunday’s are chill day for us in the Olding household. Rob plays football on a sunday and if we dont watch him play then we stay at home and tidy and play. This two piece set was from Tesco and was £10. It fits his chunky little legs perfectly but is a nightmare colour. I’ve spent far too much time trying to get stains out of it so will definitely be avoiding this colour in future.

Monday

As it is the Easter holidays, we thought we would make the most of it by doing something fun and different with Ted. We took him to the Natural History Museum so that only means one thing… dinosaurs! This dinosaur tracksuit was from Jojo Maman Bebe and the hoody is reversible which is super handy. Underneath he just wears a plain coloured long sleeved top and this one was from Next as part of a 5 pack.

Tuesday

Tuesday was another day at home as we have so much decorating to do. Ted was happy and comfy in this hooded Nike romper. He moves about in it easily and I have to say, I am incredibly jealous of this outfit!

Wednesday

Today we were out for lunch, and Ted premiered his Vans! These Vans were a gift and still far too big but they’ll fit perfectly in a few months time when he’s attempting walking and maybe up and toddling about. This little outfit is one of my absolute favourites and was only £6. It is so cute and quirky and incredibly British of course! His jumper was hand knitted by my mum. He has a lot of knitted jumpers but this remains my favourite because of the lovely bright colours. With the weather being all over the place I am so grateful for this gillet and want to buy it in every possible size!

Disney Baby Style

baby, Baby Style

Written by April Hill

Disney is one of our favourite things, and Disney baby clothes is probably my favourite thing right now. I can’t resist a cute outfit.

I wanted to share some of my best picks for shops where we find the ultimate – and affordable – Disney Style for a baby.

George at Asda

Asda is most likely my favourite and it’s where a lot of our clothes are from! You can’t fault it for quality or price. There’s a range of characters and, for the girls, the tutus are just lovely.


Primark

My closest primark isn’t very big and doesn’t stock as much, so when I get the chance to go to our biggest local one I have a good haul.

I’ve walked around and seen things in the boy section that can be totally gender neutral, so it’s always worth a look around there even if you have a girl.

Matalan

I never really thought of Matalan to begin with but was I wrong not to consider them. I just love Dumbo and my favourite outfits have come from their range, which includes PJs, Vest & Bottoms with matching hat, blankets, muslins and comforters. I’m going to be so sad when she grows out of it all – which won’t be long.

Shop Disney

You can’t not think about browsing on ShopDisney UK, although you are looking at a bit more in price. Occasionally they send out some discounts so take advantage. Quality and sweetness though you can’t fault them. I invested in some of their new Winnie The Pooh pieces and they are adorable.

I’m so bad for buying clothes. It used to be for myself but now it’s changed to my daughter. A handy tip though is if you see something you like then go for the next size up and you’ll have something to grow in to. It’s worth the wait once they can finally start wearing it.

For more cute outfits and updates from April, please check out @babybelleandmum or @aprilswifelife on Instagram.

A Mother’s Judgement

Mum

Written By Alice King

I don’t think any of us will ever deny that motherhood, although full of exciting firsts and pride, is also the most difficult of times. What mothers can do without, whether post-pregnancy in a stitched-up, heeling body, walking into your first baby class after it taking you weeks to pluck up the courage to even leave the house and go, or on that emotional first day of school, hugging your little person for that bit too long, is judgement. That awful ‘j’ word. Just thinking about prying eyes (and the thoughts that accompany them) of others feels me with dread and anxiety. Unfortunately, as human beings we expect judgement throughout life, but nothing hurts more than being told how you parent is ‘wrong.’

Where our loved ones are concerned, we easily get our backs up and want to fight for our beliefs. I’ve been judged for breastfeeding, feeding past 6 months, weaning too early, for having a baby that wakes throughout the night, for wanting to go back to work, for wanting more ‘me time,’ and even sly and passive aggressive Facebook statuses about how boring writing a mummy blog is…yawn…

However, I’m also not fully sold on the ‘mum knows best’ mantra either. My belief will always be that a mum has a choice, and as long as a mum is informed and educated in those decisions (that won’t cause harm to their child) that really that is what matters.

You see motherhood is really a lifetime of winging it. No one is an expert. You birth your little bundle and then that’s it. There is minimal support once you are shipped off to the postnatal ward where you are left to fend for yourself amongst the rest of the clueless first time mums. Even the second, third, even fourth time mums (maybe more) are in a daze, eyes cautiously wandering the room in the hope that a first time mum doesn’t ask them how it’s done.

In the midst of the confusion that tiredness brings, I’m unsure how anyone can not respect another mother. Okay, if they are neglecting their child or committing some hideous crimes then I get it, but that is a very, very small percentage of women. My passion is for the support we can offer each other, rather than the criticism. Sometimes I wonder how people have even got the time to put their energy into commenting on others parenting rather than focusing on their own. Without the support of other mums, I wouldn’t be half the mum I am now. Whether it be all the time that mine and my partner’s families put in to helping me in those first few weeks, or simply friends asking if I want to go for coffee, just so I can have a rant, there is something beautiful about women helping women rather than standing back and gossiping. Women are powerful creatures and we are even stronger when we stand together.

Labour Stories: Meg and Delilah Rose

Labour Stories, Mum, Uncategorized

Written by Meg Brooks

It was the day before my due date- 23th Feb. I spent this day jogging around my house and eating a super spicy curry for my tea. Little did I know these theories would actually work!! (or was it just a coincidence?)

At around 8pm, me and my partner got into bed all comfy, stuck a film on and tried to settle down for the night. I had been getting slight pains in my tummy for hours before this but I didn’t think anything of it as it was very very mild. However, when I was lying in bed they seemed to get worse and worse, so I began to time them. They started off being 20 minutes apart, to 10 minutes apart!

I rang my mum panicking asking for her opinion. She told me to stay calm and ring the midwives soon if they get worse. I was in deep pain now. I knew it was contractions! Suddenly, I felt a weird feeling down below, like if I moved my legs then I would wee myself. So I sat up hoping to go to the loo, and then it happened. My waters broke all over my bed! It felt like I just weed myself. I rushed to the toilet, got myself sorted, and I tried to remain pretty calm until I looked up and saw my partner running round like a mad man… he was worse than me! 

Anyway, we met my mum along her road and picked her up (she was that excited she forgot to bring the car seat which was at her house), and we got to the hospital. Every bump on the road was awful with contractions. Getting into the hospital was a bit of a blur really. I was that shook and in that much pain. The midwife examined me and told me I was 4cm already.

I remember being in my labour room with my mum and boyfriend, and I was bouncing on the medicine ball while my midwife was filling up the bath for a water birth! I hoped the pool would ease some pain, as I was starting to think I couldn’t do it anymore. I tried some gas and air, but I didn’t like it as it made me feel a bit sick. The word epidural popped into my head, but when I told my midwife she said I was already far too gone and she could tell it was going to be quite a quick labour so I couldn’t have one! Gutted.

Every contraction got worse, being 3 minutes apart each time. Apparently at one point I had my mum in a headlock- poor woman. The pool took hours to fill up. I couldn’t bare this being on no pain relief anymore! Isn’t it crazy when you’re scared and in pain, you suddenly turn into a little child again? I remember just wanting my mum, shouting ‘Mum! Mum!’ My poor partner probably felt I didn’t need him there. I was only 20 at the time, so I was only a little baby myself.

After a little while my birthing pool was ready. I was so relieved! I sat in it… and within a few seconds I felt a bit better. The pressure of the water really helps! I recommend it to any of you pregnant mummys.

Next I had an awful contraction, and suddenly felt like I was going to poo. I shouted ‘OH NO IM GOING TO POO IM GOING TO POO!’. Funny looking back, but at the time I was so scared I was going to take a dump in the pool. The midwife checked the babies heart after my contraction, and her face dropped. She said ‘you need to get out of the pool now. You need to stay calm but be really quick’. The babies heart rate had dropped suddenly. I was so scared. I turned really brave and toughened up and got out of the pool, walked over to the bed, almost slipped on the wet floor, and laid down. Gutted I was only in the pool for 2 minutes!

On my next contraction the midwife said I needed to push. It was the worst pain ever. The contractions were so bad now, at their peak. I was screaming “I can’t do it!!! I really can’t do it” but everyone was so supportive telling me I can do it and I’m nearly there.

After 20 minutes of pushing, out popped her head. The midwife told me she had loads of black hair, which made me smile and feel excited… my baby girl was almost out! I did one more big push and out popped her slippery little body. I was so relieved and shocked and amazed. She was put on my chest, slightly crying, but starting to settle. She was so beautiful, thick black hair, little intense eyes, a teeny button nose and long nails. From that moment on my life changed. I was a young mum with a new meaning in life, a new responsibility. She came and changed my world for the better and we all love her dearly. I would go through all that pain all over again for her!