The Parent I Was Before Becoming A Parent

It’s funny, isn’t it? Before you become a parent, you are full of idealistic preferences on what sort of parent you think you’ll be and what you think parenting will be like.

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pre-baby beccy.

And then motherhood, or fatherhood, comes in it’s full glory and runs you the fuck over. “Choo choo, bitch. You thought wrong”, it says, as it flattens your expectations and your blob of an exhausted body to the ground. And in your cemented-to-the-floor status, you have to admit that they were right about how hard being a parent is and that it was easier to parent before you actually became one.

For me, the dark truth hit as soon as I became pregnant. My symptoms started about a week after conception. And I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Otherwise known as: haha your body hates being pregnant and you are going to spend a small eternity weeping into buckets and toilets, starving half to death, convulsing up your body weight in fuck-knows-what (since you haven’t eaten in days) in a possessed fashion.

Honestly, HG is a violent reaction to pregnancy, it hurts a ridiculous amount and I preferred my God awful induced labour to the first 18 weeks of my pregnancy (after that it was manageable with medication). It was vile. And I was thankful to be pregnant, but the 21 year old me who was hugging the bedroom wall at a 35° angle, trying not to be sick (again, please god, no), was so miserable and so isolated and so afraid.

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around 15 weeks pregnant 🙂

And yet, during my breadline pregnancy, I still managed to keep a romanticised view of motherhood. I’d like to add I knew it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows but I was imagining motherhood as if it was going to be this holistic, healing walk through a Disney movie. I had no idea of the horrors of attempting to breastfeed a baby with reflux or looking after a newborn for days at a time on my own. I had no idea that I’d hate babywearing, and that it wouldn’t work for me, or that the stairs of my flat would often prevent me from going out because it was such a mammoth task. I had no idea I’d have to choose bottle washing over eating, that I’d worry about SIDS constantly for the first six months-ish. I cried so much and I didn’t have PND, I had a severe case of exhaustion. It was hard in the ways I didn’t realise it was going to be.

I also had no idea that the love for my unborn baby would not even begin to cover how much my heart would burst looking at Reuben. I had no idea of the indescribable love that would flood through every single cell in my body. I still can’t describe it. My child is now at an age where he’s starting to misbehave and it’s still there; the disbelief that this beautiful baby is mine and I’d give anything to protect him. The thankfulness I feel when I look at him, whether he’s being an angel or a little shit, often is overwhelming. I feel joys every day that my pre-baby self could not possibly understand.

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exhausted mama? yes. run down? yes. happy? yes.

But my pre-baby self, undoubtedly so, could not imagine being a parent at all. It’s not like babysitting at all. It’s not like looking after anyone else’s kids – and if you want to know why – it’s because they’re not yours. When the child is yours (I include adopted children here), it’s different, because the love you feel for them shapes an intricate bond. You hurt with them, you feel joy with them, when they’re testing you, it hurts. It all hurts. It hurts so much.

Nobody tells you how much it hurts watching your baby grow up and out of your arms, no matter how proud of them you are, it hurts. It breaks your heart, especially because all the hormones of the fourth trimester render you incapable of remembering the blur of new motherhood. All the days mash together in the roast dinner that is motherhood.

And it is a roast dinner, yeah? It is. You are the yorkshire pudding in a plate of chaos and you best believe you can hold your gravy if you want to survive. Otherwise, you’ll be a soggy messy, wondering why that mum on instagram has conquered parenting, cleaning and baby group in the time it’s taken you to get your baby sorted and finally have your breakfast.

My advice to you if you ever feel like that is to whisper good for you but fuck off and enjoy another cup of coffee in your pjs. Stop comparing yourself. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no set routine for your days and if you let go of it, you’ll be happier, I promise.

Routines for your baby are good but routines for you? They’re overrated in my opinion. Go with the flow, learn how to breathe when you’re overwhelmed, and care less about the state of the house. It’ll get done, okay? It’ll get done, but for now, snuggle your little one while they still want snuggles & ignore the pressure to Mrs Hinch your rug and Marie Kondo your knicker drawer – it doesn’t fucking matter. Tidy house, tidy mind, is a thing but you’re going to a miserable mama if you’ve lost your sanity trying to achieve instamum perfection.

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photos taken around this time last year, the photo of reu in the blue hat is exactly 1 year ago today!

It might be hard to let go of the parent you wanted to be. I found it hard. But I had to realise that I was given a set of skills to work with in my specific situation and all I could do was hold on, and get through it the best I could.

I promise you, you’re doing a fab job, okay? Bad parents don’t worry about being bad parents. Good parents do. Chill out a bit.

Thank you for reading,

With love, Rebecca ♡

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The Studying Single Mama.

That’s another assignment done, sent off, and fingers crossed, I get a better mark than I have for the last two. Whether or not I have done however, is not what I’m dwelling on. It’s done. I don’t need to stress about another one for a while.

During Reuben’s nap this morning, I completed all the online tasks for the week and I am feeling a fantastic sense of accomplishment from that. Well, that, and the fact it’s 18:46 and the flat needs very little doing to it tomorrow. Rest assured, by 8pm, I will be curled up in bed with a hot chocolate watching my favourite show.

With my son being with his Dad for the next two days, I get what a lot of mothers (ahem, parents) don’t get – a break. It’s an opportunity to be myself, let loose a little and as hard as it was in the beginning, I’m learning to relish in the time I get. Sometimes I can’t bare to be on my own, sometimes I’m thoroughly excited of the prospect to be on my own. It all depends on my mental state. I’d like to add that, by the time Reuben comes back, I am missing him so much and I’m recharged. It means I can be a better parent than I might have been had I had no breaks.

I’m still fairly motivated to do my degree though. Okay, some days I can’t be bothered. Or, too overwhelmed. Or, the flat is too messy for me to concentrate. So I’ve really had to learn to let go sometimes – and learn how to ignore the to do list until I’ve got some of my studies done. Let’s not forget, my studies are important too and it’s not worth letting myself get so far behind with them that I can’t catch up.

But the three things I’m doing differently this year compared to the last one is:

  1. Actually doing the weekly work that the OU sets (turns out, it really does help to understand what you’re writing about when you’re writing your assignments).
  2. Dedicating time to study. I have 2-3 chances on any average day of parenting to get any work done: during his naps and after Reuben’s in bed. I pick any 1 of those 3 opportunities on any given day where I study, which isn’t every day, quality over quantity!
  3. Writing notes! I did start doing this in my first year but then I lost motivation a couple of weeks in and honestly, it made everything so much more stressful because you forget a lot more when you don’t take notes.

Ultimately, Reuben motivates me though. Like, I was in a bad mental place during my first year and that didn’t help at all. I felt like I couldn’t cope with life back then, so it’s a wonder that I got any of it done. This year, I am not just motivated, I’m determined. Lately, it’s like I’ve been trying to overhaul myself and my life.

So I’m not just a studying single mother, or any other labels I may place myself under, I’m really just trying my best.

Thank you for reading,

With love, Rebecca♡

What’s New With Reu

Hello lovely people!

It’s been a while since I did one of these, and it’s definitely over due. Reuben turns 15 months old in two days, and my baby is definitely a toddler now. And as crazy as it sounds, I still motherhood.

Here’s what’s new with Reu:

  • We now walk about outside, he likes to use the pram as a walker when we do!
  • He loves the ergobaby carrier and back carry is our favourite. I use it when I need to get housework done mostly.
  • When I peg laundry out on the line, I take him outside with me for a little run about.
  • Loves reading books with me now.
  • He shouts a lot and it’s very cute! ^.^
  • He tries to do up his own zip, put on coats, socks, and is also getting good at using cutlery too (I’m very impressed with that).
  • He likes to help with the cleaning, and in particular, the laundry. It’s a good giggle having him help me load and unload the washing machine.
  • He’s mischievous now and is starting to test my boundaries. On the bright side, my patience is developing, right?
  • Gives me cuddles!!! So adorable! What’s not so adorable though? The slapping. Very rude. 0/10.
  • He still loves bath time but I have started to introduce him to the shower too since there’s no bath in my flat. He is quite unsure about it but likes sticking his arm in it. Baby steps!
  • I have no idea how much he weighs but if I was to guess, he’s probably between the 1.5 to 2 stone mark.
  • Despite loving veggies as a baby, the moment he turned one, he hated them. I’m having to get very creative to make sure he’s getting the right nutrition.
  • Drinks a bottle of cow and gate growing up milk before bed, since he doesn’t like cows milk or any alternative milks I’ve tried.
  • He currently has 5-6 teeth coming through at once… and for the most part, he’s dealing with it like a champ!
  • Still takes two naps a day and most nights, he sleeps 9/10pm-7-8am. I’m a very lucky mama, I realise.
  • He is the happy chap in his nappy!
  • Already taller than me. Legit.
  • He is revolted by nappy changes – oh the inconvenience, huh, son?
  • Has refused to sleep in a baby sleeping bag for months now, so fleece sleepsuits have been a life saver because he never stays under blankets.
  • He is still the absolute light of my life.

And this post wouldn’t be complete without some recent photos of my little one, so here’s a few for you!

I asked the people on my instagram if anyone had any questions for me and these are the ones I got. I’m surprised I got any to be honest, but there was no harm in asking. So here’s a uber-mini Q&A…

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Yes. In fact, it’s just gone up from one day a week to two.

I’m dating someone. I have a special friend. We’re letting the relationship grow first. All will be revealed in due course.

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I love this question!

I’d tell myself: it’s okay that the house is a mess, you’ll get around to it. i know every other parent seems to done everything in the time it’s taken you to wake up, and that’s okay, it’s not a race, there’s no set way to run your day. you don’t like your body but it’ll get better. everything will change, so hold your baby more… he will not always need you like he needs you now. stop worrying about your parenting; your child is loved and well looked after. therapy is worth it, say everything you need to say. (I did) And lastly, love yourself more.

Okay, that’s me done. If you’ve any questions, leave them in the comments below.

Thank you for reading,

With love, Rebecca ♡

Epiphany

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It’s funny how life can realign your focus real fast. And in this particular instance, I’m referring to social media. And not in a bad way. Doesn’t that make a change?

You see, it was lunch time. And for some reason, it had become a one sided food fight. I imagine it’s frowned upon to yeet broccoli back at your child. And I was thoroughly annoyed. I could not get Reuben to stop launching his dinner, which was practically a roast dinner, at me.

And so I sat defeated, and decided to take a five minute breather on Instagram.

I feel like this post was there by fate. This post that completely shifted my focus. It brought me to tears. I leapt up and picked up my food covered child and held him tight.

A post by a mother who’d lost their child caught my eye. I read it. The twisted pang in my heart I got as I got a glimpse into what it must be like to lose a child sent a lightning bolt of realisation to my head.

Fuck, I thought, fuck this stupid dinner. It doesn’t matter. Look at my child sat there giggling and smiling ay me. That’s what matters!

And as I held my child. I remembered how much I’d wished for him, I remembered how long pregnancy was and how I spent every day of it anxious and afraid, I remembered how I’d be checking his breathing constantly when he was born… I got flashes of memories, one after the other, leading right up to today.

I suddenly felt guilt and relief.

It is by chance that my child lives and breathes today and I’ll be damned if I let some yorkshire pudding make me any less grateful.

Since that moment today, everything has felt less tiring because I appreciate the life I’m living just a little bit more. Reuben’s really happy. I’m happy. It’s a happy albeit messy home.

Thank you for reading,

With love, Rebecca ♡

Growing Together.

Tonight, as I put Reuben to bed in his own room, I realised how much I have grown as a parent.

I remembered the way I would sleep as close to him as possible when he first entered this world. He would sleep in his moses basket pretty well and it was beside the bed, and you know, if I got any closer I’d be in it. But the point was, I slept so close that I only had to lift my head to check that he was okay. It wasn’t the only way I was a nervous parent. I found everything so confusing and I often watch new mothers in awe that they seemingly had their shit together. I didn’t. At all. And if I ever gave anyone the impression that I had, well I’m sorry but, no – haha – it took months for me to get the hang of going outside.

Fast forward to today and I am far more relaxed. Thank goodness.

I have been a single parent for almost a year now and I am so calm about my parenting methods. And yes, I even have stopped feeling so bad about failing to breastfeed. I don’t think it makes a difference. Like, wait, I know there’s all the benefits of it, but there are so many other factors that matter when it comes to parenting & the way you feed your child is just one. Sure, I’d love to have done it, but I don’t feel guilty for bottle feeding anymore. Literally the worst thing about it was the endless bottle washing and sterilising.

But it’s not just the way I feel calm about my parenting methods. It’s me. One year ago, I had just begun therapy and my head felt like a mess. It’d like to emphasize that this wasn’t related to Reubs, my head was in a PTSD-mess. I felt all kinds of nope. Now that I’m reflecting I realise that I’m not suffering with PTSD like I was.

Ultimately what I’m trying to say is that I think I have really settled into motherhood at this point and I know my own mind when it comes to parenting. And sure, my child is only 1 years old and there’s a lot of hurdles to come but what is the point of worrying about them yet? No, what matters is the present and taking things day by day.

Time goes by too fast. Reuben is nothing like that little squishy newborn in the moses basket anymore, he’s a little chunk (who’s almost half my height may I add!) with the cheekiest personality. The only thing that hasn’t changed is that he’s still my world.

Thank you for reading my post,

Rebecca♡

No Shadows.

IMG_20190110_221832_751I have been taking antidepressants for a little over two weeks now, and I’ve got to admit, it’s been a lot smoother sailing than it was last time. There are factors contributing to this that are undeniable – the fact that I have much better hold over my PTSD and anxiety symptoms, that my life is entirely different to how it was back in 2014, and that I have a far better understanding of what antidepressants do.

But it seems that not everyone understands.

And I am being even more secretive about taking them this time around too.

There are so many misconceptions about antidepressants and I’ve heard a lot of “don’t start taking them, they’re addictive!” or “you don’t need them, you just need to xyz”. But show very little understanding of mental health illness, let alone how antidepressants work.

I’d like to sit here and explain why there are misconceptions and why they are wrong, but that would be straying from the point of this post entirely. The point is that I have noticed a good shift in my mental health already with very minimal side effects, and have increased the quality of my day to day life. Why? Because the 25ml of Sertraline that I have been taking a day have boosted my serotonin levels just enough to balance me out.

Just to clarify, I’m not suddenly bouncing off the walls in constant joy and contentment. I still get sad, to put it plainly, but that’s where it ends. It’s not deafening, suffocating sadness. It’s not vague emptiness and wallowing. I just get sad. And suddenly, when I’m feeling happy, I actually feel happiness without the depression hovering over me. It’s often felt like a shadow in the corner of my eye, even on the happiest of days, and now? Well, I just don’t feel that.

I suppose the next question is; will I be on antidepressants forever?

I have no doubt that when I want to come off of antidepressants, that I will be able to. I’ve done it before, and it really wasn’t that bad. But if I do need to stay on them for a long time, then fair enough. Just like a condition in any other part of the body, if I require medication to function better, and live my life the best I can, then so be it.

Thank you for reading.

With love, Rebecca

 

Getting it done.

You know what the highlight of today was? I felt really exhausted this morning – the coffee didn’t even touch the sides. So, I decided to nap with Reuben and I was so glad I did. We slept from around half 10 until 1pm!!! It felt like such a glorious luxury and because I felt much better, I found it so much easier to get on with things.

Including putting Reu into the ergobaby carrier after lunch so I could get on with the housework. I’ve also (finally) put another layer of paint on the chest of drawers. I don’t know if I have mentioned this before, but literally months ago I started an upcycle project. No matter! I have finally put on the final coat of paint (I think!).

I used to packing skills too today. I have a Christmas plate and cup set but now it’s wrapped up in it’s own box, ready for the move. I just can’t imagine I’ll be here another year – surely not! Either way, my head is back in the game when it comes to decluttering and packing up what I can for the move. I’m thinking of sticking things I still need in plastic storage boxes and then they’re already packed up – as long as I keep it organised. I have a few boxes I’ve cut down and put in a storage cupboard too, that will help when the time comes. I can literally put everything in my bathroom into one very easily. If you have any moving tips that might not have thought of, please feel free to let me know? 🙂

But for now, I’m focusing on making Reuben’s room fit for purpose. It’s funny. Most people get onto this when they’re pregnant. Not me. I knew Reuben would be in my room for the first year at the very least, so I didn’t make it into the ‘nursery’. Maybe I should have done. I’m finding the transition tricky but I’m going to be patient. Reuben will fall asleep in his own room but he won’t stay in there if he wakes up during the night. For some reason, I think the welsh dresser that’s been stored in there is the problem. Feels like bad feng shui or something? Looks like I’m just going to have to move it back into the living room and have another move around in my room too.

This is mid-sort-out. Don’t worry!

I know I’ve just been babbling on. I don’t know if any of this is interesting to anyone but I love blogging this kind of stuff. It’s nice. I want to perhaps blog every day, about my day, my mental health, my parenting journey… this is my place to be authentic.

Anyway, here’s a cute picture from this morning after breakfast. Little man still has all sorts of little ailments going on but he’s much better!

With love, Rebecca ♡