ailbhe: (Default)
... eating the burnt toast so that the children don't have to (though at weekends I make Rob do it).

... being told "Dud dirl" and kissed gently on the cheek while tucked up in bed. I'm not sure why; perhaps Emer was feeling very grown-up and responsible?

... being completely unable to see three-foot-tall children hiding behind their own hands in the middle of an empty room; "Sh! Huiet! MAMMY ME HIDING!!!"

Delight

Feb. 26th, 2009 10:18 am
ailbhe: (Default)
Linnea asked to sit on my lap, and we had a cuddle.

She's gone now, but I'm still reeling with delight.
ailbhe: (Default)
Today in a quiet suburban street in Reading, Berks, a young-mother-of-two who cannot be identified did not hurt her children. "She always seemed so normal," said a neighbour, "I mean, they were a lovely family."

Neighbours heard the children shrieking with laughter but they did not see the wardrobe being emptied or the laundry basket being tipped up so that clean and dirty laundry were mixed together. "You just can't see what goes on behind closed doors," said Emma, 58, from number 73. It has also been reported that although at least one of the children knew what she was doing was wrong, the mother (age 30) did not beat her, or throw her out the window.

Other mothers from the toddler group the children regularly attended until a few months ago said "It's not normal. Everyone loses their lid sometimes."

Reports that the children were not locked in a cellar full of rats are also being investigated.

This is crossposted. Also, I am having a really horrible day and I find that what I most want is to UTTERLY BREAK LINNEA'S SPIRIT so that she is demure and obedient from here on in. Somebody, stop me.

An Outing

Sep. 20th, 2006 06:07 pm
ailbhe: (street sky)
Approx 10 am, phone rings. Friend H with whom we have tentative plans assuming she's at home and not at work today. I say "You are at home - I'll call you back within an hour."
Leaving the house )
Catching the train )
We got off the train ok and I went to buy my ticket (our local station has a ticket office only open during rush hour at bank holiday weekends when there's an R in the month, or something). Linnea handed it to the man at the gate, who was delighted above and beyond the call of duty, and we went to get money. Then we went ot the cafe, where Linnea was overwhelmed by shyness and couldn't order her lunch, so I did it for her.

By now it was 12:55. We found a table and sat down with water and tea and waited for the nice lady to bring us our lunch. And in walked H with her daughter F.

The rest of the afternoon - at least, until 15:30 or so - was what you'd expect from two toddlers, two mums, one babe in arms, a cafe, and a bookshop. We bought one book because Linnea chose it by starting to take the stickers out of the back. I asserted myself at lunchtime and didn't allow F to lick Linnea's cutlery or plate, etc. H got to tell me her news in accelerated staccato format, which was, er, interesting, and nobody ended up dead. A success, therefore.

Then H went to a toyshop and Linnea and I headed home, with Baby Emer (Linnea argued the point, but I won). I put Emer in the hugabub and Linnea in the buggy, for a bit; I swapped them for a bit, but then Emer needed a feed, so I took her out and spent ten minutes arguing Linnea into the buggy. Eventually I was able to say "There's our bus, but we can't get on it because you're not in the buggy," and she got in. So I got on the bus holding Emer in one hand, with her latched on, and pushing the buggy with the other. I am not altogether sure how I paid the fare but I did. Then I managed to park the buggy and sit down and finished Emer's feed and put her in the hugabub and got us all off the bus and took her out again and fed her again while pushing the buggy and walking home.

When we reached the door Linnea refused to get out of the buggy. I can't remember how I dealt with that.

Then I changed Emer's nappy twice in quick succession, parked Linnea in front of the TV, put a chicken in the oven to roast, fed Emer, folded up the ring sling (I'd hung it to dry this morning), and eventually, after much faffing, got Emer in the sling. She threw up on it. Oh well; we washed it last night, we can wash it tonight.

The days are just packed.
ailbhe: (Default)
A family of five descended on us like an inverse swarm of locusts, fed us, and bore off my firstborn. Mainly because they were leaving to go to town and she sat down and cried "My need a go a town TOO!"

Baby George on the Archers triggers my letdown reflex.

It's terribly, terribly quiet. I have a hot cup of tea and a book (Nuala O'Faolain "my dream of you") and the smell of cigarette smoke wafting in from outdoors. Emer is asleep in the next room, making occasional cheerful moaning noises.

It's lovely.
ailbhe: (emer)
Fed Emer
Fed Linnea
Fed Emer again
Made Linnea wear a nappy (Rob spent 25 minutes trying)
Dressed
Did hair
Ate breakfast
Cleared breakfast table
Put Emer in hugabub
Set Linnea up with painting
Ran Linnea a bath for when painting is over
Tidied library
Tidied dining room

To do: brush teeth, bath Linnea

All else is jam.
ailbhe: (mamahastwo)
Got up
Fed Emer
Practised stopping a sneeze. Failed. Ow.
Fed Linnea
Brushed hair
Fed Emer
Changed Emer's nappy twice
Got dressed
Soothed Emer through some horrible tummying
Failed to get Emer in the ring sling until she was furious
Got Emer into the hugabub in an upright frog position; jiggled and sang her to sleep[1]
Ate breakfast while giving Linnea her morning snack
Sorted some dry laundry - it has been stacked in a basket too heavy for me to lift, so I will have to shift it in smaller packages
Responded to my support request "answer" again. They still haven't worked out why I can't turn photos into userpics. I've tried three browsers.

To do:
Clear dining table
Set Linnea up with painting
Assemble all the dry nappies
Sort the dry clothes
Clear the kitchen counter of the debris from Rob cooking dinner last night (microwave M&S beef casserole, serves 4 anorexic midgets who are abnormally keen on salt)
Run Linnea a bath (cf: painting)
Pull the clean wet clothes out of the washing machine for hanging
POSSIBLY hang them, carrying them into the garden an armful at a time, if I can stretch up enough
Maybe put another load in the machine, but not put it on because I can't lift the jug of detergent

[1] Something strange is happening to the pomes; I now make them up to sing to Emer but for Linnea's benefit, eg "Nea is your sister, Rob he is your Dad, I am just your Mammy, Hush it's not so bad" etc. Almost all of them mention Linnea. This is good, because it keeps Linnea happy and important. But odd.
ailbhe: (Default)
Emer woke from a long, leisurely nap just as the beans were almost done (beans for Linnea's lunch; she had about half a 200g tin; 100g contains 0.9g of salt. Dear gods) and the toast had popped. And she needed an immediate nappy change.

I can see that for the next year I will eat all my meals except dinner with a baby on my lap.

Nursing.

And scratching.

Anyway, she's just nodded off, after a solid 90 minutes - maybe more - of awake alert time. I had another go with the hugabub but I'm wearing dungarees which aren't the best for experimenting with it. I'll try the ring sling when she next wakes.

She's my second baby. That's why she's sleeping slumped in the bouncy chair while the toddler watches tv and bounces on an armchair. I'm not sure how long TV will last today; after this (so far, she's watched 7 minutes of Something Special) there's 50 minutes of Big Cook Little Cook, which is loathesome. However, we might have visitors, which would be good.

I really need to clear the dining table and tidy the library. My incision - one of my internal incisions, that is - aches. I'm tired. Linnea did a stinky poo and Emer did a milky poo (explosive, and full of curds) and I cleaned them both up and I'm finding it hard to eat enough.

I wonder how long Emer will sleep for this time.

Home Alone

Sep. 4th, 2006 09:09 am
ailbhe: (Default)
It's my first day home alone. Rob left (late!) 20 minutes ago. I can't believe the godawful state the house is in. How is it that it's fine when my mother is here, fine when I'm well, but 48 hours after my mother leaves and while I'm sub-par the kitchen is almost uninhabitable, the floors are filthy, and even the kitchen bins are overflowing? There isn't even anything here for our lunch, as far as I know.

Augh! Despair!

Also, I can't quite figure out how to tote Emer about in the Peapod hold in the hugabub. I think I'm doing it too loose. That, or I'm just too damn short. None of the women in the video seemed to be carrying babies that took up as much of their torso as Emer does of mine. I know this was a problem with Linnea until she learned to hold her head up. Please, this baby is tiny. Let me be able to learn this one. She keeps sagging down to the horizontal.
ailbhe: (trike)
Friday morning, Rob left the house at 8:30, leaving Linnea, Emer, me, and my mother. Linnea was fed and dressed, which was fabulous. My mother was drugged out on antihistamines and unrousable. I got up, fed Emer again again, put her in the hugabub (badly!), and made tea and had breakfast. Then Linnea and I emptied the dishwasher, I cleared the table, filled the dishwasher, sorted some laundry, brushed our teeth (while carrying Emer!), and sat down in the library, where I fed Emer again and read livejournal, and Linnea read one of her books.

Mum got up at 9:30 and came downstairs. "Wow, it all looks so peaceful!" she said.

I felt terribly accomplished. Mind you, the major tidy-up of the two downstairs rooms had been done by Rob the night before, but you couldn't tell by looking that a toddler had been up and about all morning, just the same. Nor that three people had had breakfast.




Today we got up and out the door by 8:10, took Mum to the train station to get her bus to the airport, bought tea and bananas so that Mum and I wouldn't faint (Linnea stole my banana), waved Mum goodbye, went and found breakfast in one of the few cafes open before 9 am on a Saturday, bought a pack of pipecleaners as a birthday-girl's-brother present for the party in the afternoon (tobacconists are open early, it seems), ate, found a charity shop opening at 9, bought a couple of gift bags and a birthday card, and incidentally a set of small ice-lolly makers, and went to WH Smiths to find a couple of books for the birthday girl for the party, and then went to Mothercare to have the assistant look at my buggy-cum-pram and tell me why it was acting all funny now we've turned it into a pram (we've lost the manual; my gods, my buggy comes with a manual!), and then went to the Farmer's Market, where I got a jug I've sort of had ordered since June, and a cute, dinky, dainty, adorable teeny tiny teaset suitable for children, large dolls, or covetous adults with a thing for handmade pottery. I couldn't help it. It was so cute I almost exploded on sight.

And then we went home for lunch.

After lunch, Rob and Linnea had a bath, and we all four set off on the trike for the party. It was a pretty stiff cycle - there was wind, and drizzle, and a non-trivial hill, and we'd never gone that way before. Several times I asked Rob whether I should get out and walk; he was huffing a bit. But I think he enjoyed it really, and he gets a bit of a kick out of pedalling his whole family around. Emer's carseat just fits - we've emailed the retailer to ask if there are any tips on transporting an infant in one, like a special small carseat that would fit better - and Linnea and one adult still fit ok. It's even fairly comfy, though carrying shopping is out of the question; Rob had to take the nappy kit on his back.

At the party Linnea sought the birthday girl out and gave her her presents (the one-year-old handed them on to Is, who gave them back to Linnea, but they all had fun and the presents were indeed left at the birthday girl's home when everyone went away again and that's what counts) and talked to a few people. I was too tired (can't imagine why) to be very sociable but we got there.

18 days after a c-section, attending a toddler party is about all I'm asking of myself. Being its life and soul costs extra.

Then we came back home late enough that we stopped for dinner at Chilis, where I realised I have never seen a fat or even plump member of staff, which is a bit weird when I think of the shapes I see walking around town. Then we went to Boots to buy cotton wool, and Linnea pushed a tiny trolley with a huge flag, and took things off the shelves and pushed them to the till and unloaded the trolley. It was gorgeous.

And then home, milk, bed.

And then we watched the hugabub howto video again, and learned where we've been going wrong with the newborn carry ("peapod"), and Rob practised it but dipped the hugabub in the bowl of clean water we keep for nappy changes, by accident. So he used the ring sling for the first time ever instead.

And here we are. I need a picture of all four of us lined up with the trike, now.

The four of us.

Oh my god. What have we done?!
ailbhe: (working)
I have two blogs - I think they're blogs - in their infancy, which may end up nothing or may be fascinating mines for semi-precious stones of wisdom. No idea.

[livejournal.com profile] whoteacheswhom and [livejournal.com profile] mamahastwo are about home education and tandem feeding.

(While I'm plugging syndicated feeds, I rather like [livejournal.com profile] mydadsacommunis even though the title was too long for an lj username).
ailbhe: (Default)
The first was when I asked a woman in staff clothes - I think she was a Maternity Assistant, not a nurse or a midwife - to help me by giving me a cushion to keep the baby off my wound, and hand me the baby. She wanted me to try the "rugby hold", and I said "It never worked with my other daughter." She argued with me, saying that feeding the baby held in front of me wouldn't work and would cause pain to the wound. When it became clear I was going to try it my way, she walked away. Had I needed further assistance, I would have had to buzz again - as it was I had to position the cushion with one hand while holding the baby with the other, less than twelve hours after abdominal surgery. The good news is that the cushion supported my arm, which supported the baby, and we had a comfortable feed.

The next I don't really remember, but feeding lying down a Staff Nurse reached out and touched my breast to help position it. I don't remember whether I said anything, or what she was trying to do.

After that, my mother and I heard the woman in the bed next to mine having a long argument with a midwife because she and her baby had been just about discharged, gone to change the baby's nappy before leaving, and found crystals in it. This can be a sign of dehydration so they were asked to wait to see a paediatrician before leaving. There was a delay of more than six hours to see the paediatrician, during which time the woman was given no help at all with latching, positioning, determining whether the baby was sucking effectively (you can often tell by looking). She wasn't told that there was a breastfeeding clinic downstairs she could drop in to without an appointment. She wasn't offered a meeting with a lactation consultant. She was just told that the baby could be dehydrated, that this was "because feeding wasn't going well," and that she "had to" wait to see a paediatrician before she could go home. (Eventually, her mother, who is a doctor, came in and got them released somehow, after both parents and the grandmother spoke to the paediatrician - luckily the paediatrician spoke German, because the baby's mother was German and though her English was excellent she was too upset to have to cope with new-baby-panic in a second language. The grandmother's English wasn't as good as the mother's, either).

Later that evening the Staff Nurse dropped by my bed to ask how things were going and I said "Fine," and she asked how feeding was going and I said "Great, she's been on most of the day, really," and I was in the process of latching her on again as I said that. The Staff Nurse reached out and sort of squeezed my breast above the nipple to try to push more if it into Emer's mouth. I said "Please don't," and she explained that she was trying to make sure the latch was ok. I assured her it was fine. She said it couldn't be because the baby shouldn't be hungry enough to suck all day, the colostrum should be enough, and if she was sucking all day it was because the latch was bad. I ended up repeating over and over that I thought the baby just liked to suck. She'd only been born that morning, after all - and that was early. (Latch fine, baby fine, c-section babies are often very clingy and needy the first day because it's a very sudden way to come into the world).

At some point that night someone told me I shouldn't feed her when she started mouthing, I should wait until she "really wanted it" so that she'd "have a really good feed". Er, yeah. Ever tried to latch on a really, really hungry and frustrated newborn? No joke.

And the final straw was at about 1 am. Around 8 pm Emer was declared a bit cold, and they put her on a heat pad under a plastic dome in the bedside bassinet (a whole nother post about the skin to skin thing follows, I promise). At 11 pm I couldn't bear it any more and I buzzed for someone. A midwife arrived, told me to turn on the light - I had no idea how and it took a while to get her to tell me how, turns out there's a button on the buzz-for-a-nurse thing - and asked me impatiently, in a daytime voice, what I wanted. I said "I want to touch my baby." She said:

"What for?"

I said "Because she's my baby," and we had a little argument. She insisted that the baby should not be disturbed, I said I didn't want to disturb her, just touch her, she said that I ought to leave the baby alone and rest... it went on and on. Eventually I said "But how can I rest if I can't touch my baby?" and she gave in. She did a full check of blood pressure, temperature, and pulse, and then tucked Emer in beside me for skin to skin, and I fed her. The midwife asked if I'd fed my other daughter and I said "I still do," and immediately her attitude changed: now I was a Good Mother, a Good Patient, and she was going to be nice to me. She even said she'd make sure I was checked a couple of hours early to get the catheter out before breakfast time.

And a while later the woman in the bed opposite buzzed for her, for help breastfeeding. I don't remember the whole conversation, but the gist of it was that the woman had had trouble feeding earlier in the day and asked for and been given a bottle of formula. The night midwife harangued her about it - strongly implying that she was stupid, repeating and repeating that she was sure to fail if she had given a bottle, that bottles are very harmful to breastfeeding, that she needed to never give a bottle, that she shouldn't have given the bottle... she didn't stop until the woman was crying. And nowhere in the "conversation" did I hear helpful advice, or a question about what precise problem the mother had with feeding, or anything useful or supportive like that.

I was furious, but far too ill and tired to buzz for the midwife to tell her what I thought of her. I wanted to. I almost shouted across the bloody room, but I was too ill for a confrontation at 1 am - I was too ill to hear other people's confrontations, for heavens' sake. And I was sick of being given breastfeeding advice by unqualified people myself, so dishing it out wasn't really a good idea.

Next day I moved to a private room, and we found out that there's a patient-midwives meetings scheme thing to improve midwifery services. I intend to get involved. Hooboy do I intend to get involved.
ailbhe: (cake)
So my NCT social event is over, and two women came, one with an external baby and one with an internal baby. They were lovely, if a bit more interested in adult-led weaning than I am, and stayed for about an hour, and it was fine. Now I'm feeling angry and stressed.

I'm annoyed, as far as I can tell, because I find it very hard to clamp down on my strong feelings about various things baby-related, but I do, and other people seem to me to be less reluctant to speak out to strangers on these matters. (Online journals don't count as talking to strangers; if you don't like what I say you can click away). I tried to be as moderate as possible on the topic of eco-disposables and cloth nappies, and on breastfeeding (I really, really stayed very quiet about breastfeeding, and didn't even mention that I'm still feeding Linnea, which felt very like not being Out), and I didn't even enthuse too much about sling use, though I did tell the pregnant woman that feeding a baby in a sling was a valuable skill and she's welcome to come and practice with my slings once her baby's external, before she buys one of her own.

They were nice, but I feel self-repressed, and that leaves me feeling a bit bitter. Ho hum.

Career

Jun. 22nd, 2006 02:08 pm
ailbhe: (Default)
There's a lot of discussion about The Mommy Wars again, apparently. You know - mothers who don't get paid and do stay at home doing childcare think mothers who have paying jobs and use babysitters, nannies, nurseries, et cetera are neglectful and abandoning, and mothers who have paying jobs etc etc think mothers who stay at home are anti-feminist parasites.

I'm the stay at home type (and you're all evil child-abandoning monsters, etc, etc, we can consider that bit said) and I've spent a lot of time over the past two years trying to think it all through.

First, for me, stay at home mothering was a career choice. It's a bit odd, as a career choice, because it means that unless I pop out a baby every couple of years until I'm 45, I will hit unemployment long before retirement age. It also frames the father of my children, who is also my husband, as my employer, a framing which just plain doesn't work, because he can't afford to pay me minimum wage for the hours I work and still cover his half of the mortgage, bills etc, and he also doesn't have the power to sack me, and, er, he's not my employer. Perhaps the child(ren) is (are).

Second, for me, stay at home mothering was something I had always wanted to do. It wasn't a primary goal for my four sisters, who all actively pursued other careers although they want to have children as well. But for me, it was something I wanted to do but thought was impossible from the time I was 14 years old. I grew up knowing that respectable, intelligent women go out to work and have Proper Jobs. And I was clearly intelligent, though I wasn't sure about respectable.

Third, none of the boys I knew, growing up, could imagine a partner who didn't have a job and earn money. No way. I suspect that none of them could imagine doing their fair share of the childcare either, but since they're not around now I can't ask. I vetted serious boyfriends on whether they thought stay at home mothering would be a possibility if we ever settled down together; I have had only two serious boyfriends who passed that test, out of, well, lots. One of them liked the idea but wasn't ready to settle down yet really, and the other married me.

Hrump, where am I going with this?

Ah yes.

None of my boyfriends ever, ever wanted to be stay at home fathers. Not one. Those of you familiar with my past will realise how large the numbers are, and those of you who aren't, well, they're large. I never had a proper girlfriend, but only one of my female friends wanted to settle down, be dependent on a man, and have babies - and she didn't want to do the baby-raising work herself, she just saw it as an easy option. (I wasn't keen on the "dependent on a man" aspect either, and had many wild plans for getting pregnant anonymously and fleeing the country to live off the proceeds of my bestselling angsty novels, but I did, to be fair, recognise them as wild plans - I really thought I'd have to live off the dole).

I've had jobs where management asked casually whether I had plans to have children soon. I've had job interviews where I was asked that, very casually, sometimes very obliquely. I'm well aware that the fact that women are responsible for some stupendously large perecentage of childcare makes it harder for us/them to get and keep jobs, and especially to get and keep high-flying high-powered high-earning jobs. But I don't think that's my fault. I note that my husband has never been asked that, and has only once been made to feel that he shouldn't want to be involved in his baby's life to the extent that he is - it was someone in his management structure who thought paternity leave was a ridiculous joke and had no idea why anyone would want it, and Rob dismissed him as "an unreconstructed chauvinist" anyway.

It's not about whether stay-at-home mothers or working mothers are better mothers, to me, because it's obvious to me that some stay-at-home mothers are great and some are lousy, and some working mothers are great and some are lousy - even when they had a genuinely free choice over which to do, which I'm not convinced happens very often (for instance, my salary before we had a baby would not have covered childcare I would have been happy with, and the maternity leave conditions there weren't great either - plus I fairly often worked 60 hours a week or more and was often ill from work-related stress).

The argument I want to have is why is it women who have to make these "choices" and take all the flak for it? What stops men from doing it?
ailbhe: (Default)
I paraphrase: "If you'd rather not leave your 10-month-old baby for more than a day, you have deeper issues." I didn't paraphrase the "deeper issues" phrase, since I'm not clear what it means, but the context implies "problems".

But I've heard this before - that it's unhealthy to want to spend almost all of every waking day with your baby, that wanting regular time away in multi-hour chunks is more normal than not, that not wanting such time is evidence that the parent is weirdly dependent on the baby and fostering a dependent attitude in the child, suffocating and other things I can't remember the names for now. If it's a boy-baby Oedipus comes into things once the discussion gets sufficiently heated.

The bit I don't understand is why it's bad for parents, particularly mothers, to want to spend most of the time with their children, caring for them, not leaving them with a sitter or a carer or similar. How does it hurt the mother? How does it hurt the child? How much time away from the child, leaving someone else to care for it, is necessary for optimal psikerlogical development?

This makes about as much sense to me as the assumption that it's bad for children to be left with an alternative carer while the parents, to pick a random example, go out and earn food money, or study, or take papier mache lessons. Why?
ailbhe: (working)

I was recently made aware of the acronym MILF, which, according to a reliable and outraged source, means "Mother I'd Like to Fuck."

Well, isn't that nice?

One of the nicest things about it, I find, is that it assumes that such mothers are in the minority. Otherwise it wouldn't need an acronym; there'd be M for Mothers, and MIKOOB for Mothers I'd Kick Out Of Bed, or similar. And, of course, there's the implied corollary that women who are not mothers mostly fall into the Women I'd Like To Fuck category, because, well, WILF is just catchy.

And because there are, as we all know, Maidens, Mothers and Whores. And Mothers are the safe ones, who do not come with a load of desirability baggage. This goes back about a zillion years to the dawn of the anti-feminist backlash or whatever, depending on whether you believe certain Golden Age fantasties (when women ruled the world and lived in peace and harmony and never died of STDs or childbirth and celebrated their menses and revelled in their menopause and so on). It's sitting pretty at the back of the general subconscious; people react a lot more badly to "young mother (21) raped in park" than to "young woman (21) raped in park" because mothers are suppsed to be inviolate, asexual, aloof - and that's crazy.

Mothers are sexual creatures, just like they were when they started trying to conceive, and for much the same reasons. There hasn't been an immaculate conception for at least 2,000 years; getting around the sex-makes-babies equation takes quite a lot of science and time and effort (usually, ho hum, effort on the part of women, messing around with thermometers and pills and placebo pills and the indignity of infertility treatment).

So it stands to reason that most women with at least one child have had sex at least once. I'm sure you'll agree.

And women with two children of different ages, that is to say, not twins, have had sex atleast twice. Yes?

Wow!

And what proportion of the adult (as in, of childbearing age) female population of the planet, until now, has been women who had at least one child?

I don't know, but I bet it's more than half. That's a lot of mothers having sex. Wahey!

But nonetheless we have this big blanket over the whole thing, like the discretion blanket people drape over their babies heads when they breastfeed in public, so that everyone can tell at a glance what they're doing but can't see anything.

(Breastfeeding is not a sexual act. Breasts are not primary sex characteristics. Someday the world will earn to cope with them. There will be no more breastfeeding in this thinking-aloud.)

And the discretion blanket shows everyone that there's sex there, but that it's at the very least extremely private, and posssibly shameful and secret, too.

So when I toddle off to the doctor and say "Hello Mister Doctor Person I had a baby and now I can't have sex," the doctor just isn't programmed to think "Oh goodness, that's appalling, we must try and fix it." No, the doctor is programmed to think "Oh well, sex isn't all that important to people like you, so we'll just send you on your way."

I get a little more sympathy when I say "But I want to have another baby!" - and I admit, that is the truly devestating part of the whole affair, but it's not the ONLY part - because mothers are supposed to want more babies. I get a bit of understanding when I say "And that means that my husband can't have sex," and the Health Visitors all ask me "Oh, dear, how is Rob coping?" - and they mean "Is he being nice to you or does he hate not having sex so much it's ruining your relationship?"

But almost no-one (the most recent Health Visitor is a counterexample) thinks that it's a terrible thing that I, a healthy 26-year-old married woman with no hormonal problems or disease problems or anything like that just cna't have sex.

Even when I want to.

Possibly ever again.

Because I'm a mother, and because I'm a woman, and I'm not sure which of these is the primary reason.

ailbhe: (red shoes)

What the hell is a Yummy Mummy? Is it like a Breeder? Or a Moo? Am I one? Some days I look very smart, well, maybe not smart, but funky as hell, with excellent jeans and orange tshirt and tie-dye headscarf and a daughter in orange and tie-dye looking very coordinated and slightly piratical, and her buggy has a funky coloured polyester cosytoes and we swan around the shops buying organic this and fairtrade that and recycled the other, looking at amusing socks and stopping for lunch in the park or maybe in Pret if I have Luncheon Vouchers and I generally feel top of the world and leisurely and very, very trendy and young. And rich, on those days, because I never actually want to buy anything I can't afford, on those days.

And some days - today is one of them - my hair is greasy and my clothes have poo-stains and my eyes are sunken and I have circles around them from crying so much. But my daughter still has a homecooked organic produce banana muffin for her snack. And I hosted the NCT toddler coffee and no-one realised how truly manky I am. And the house is hoovered and I have plans for dinner and I'm still knitting this winter coat for the baby, I think it's 38 rows now but I'm not sure. I look like hell and I've been picking a spot on my chin until it bleeds and I am beginning to fear for the stability of my marriage and I probably have PMS as well.

So what's a yummy mummy? Does anyone ever say anything including the phrase "yummy mummy" without being massively patronising? Ever? And how can you tell when you've seen one? How can you tell it's not just me on a good day? And how the hell else can I keep some sense of identity, if I can't even try to look mildly fabulous without being lumped in with idle ladies who lunch?

Oh, yes, sorry, I forgot, I don't work. I forgot.

ailbhe: (mammy)

We learn about motherhood primarily from our own mothers, I think. And from our formally and informally adopted mothers, I suppose.

What my mother didn't teach me, my informally adopted mothers did.

They taught me that it's ok to want to be accepted, approved of, and loved. They taught me that it's ok to ask to be accepted, approved of, and loved. They taught me that when you least expect it, you can suddenly arrive "home" to find a birthday cake and seven waiting grins, singing Happy Birthday because you're sixteen and you've asked no-one to make a fuss in case no-one remembers.

They taught me to use vitamin E cream on burns and vitamin C for a cold. They taught me to drink wine and to love champagne and that it is possible and normal to have a library in one's own home, a book utterly utterly lined with books, no space between except for reading armchairs (and toys!).

They taught me to fight and shout back when shouted at, to rage instead of to cry, to make up even after years of silence and not-talking-to. They taught me that if I think I can do something, I can go ahead and do it, and through that, I learned that if I think I can do something, I almost always can. They thought I could do it so I could.

They picked me up when I was sick - one of them diagnosed my miscarriage years before I admitted to myself that that's what it was - and they let me cry when I broke up with a boyfriend. They gave me somewhere to stay when my flat was burgled, when I had rows with boyfriends, when I couldn't bear to go home to my own family.

They taught me to cook breakfast and bath babies and write a CV and to show people my writing. They taught me to be unashamed of doing well.

They taught me that if 95% is my best, then 95% is ok.

They taught me that I'm fine and dandy, just the way I am.

And they taught me that my own mother believed that too, however hard I found it to believe. But now I believe it, it's obvious to see. She shows it all the time.

ailbhe: (mammy)

We learn about motherhood primarily from our own mothers, I think. And from our formally and informally adopted mothers, I suppose.

I learned almost everything I know from mine.

When my little sister was a baby, so I was about 3 at the most, my Nana had laid her across her lap and was patting her back and bottom to burp her. My baby sister was crying - probably screaming, actually - and my Nana said to me, "Isn't she very bold?" (bold meaning naughty), and I agreed that yes, she was very bold! Nana said, "Will I smack her?" and I replied -

"Babies aren't for smacking. Babies are for loving."

I remember my mother chasing me around the kitchen with a wooden spoon to smack me hard for being very very bold - but I don't remember her catching me. I remember her chalking hopscotch on the kitchen floor (quarry tiles) and teaching me how they used to play when she was a little girl. I remember her teaching me to skip (jump rope) and knit and sew. I remember sitting for hours turning the fabric for hair scrunchies inside-out because she made them to sell; we used to stretch them over a knitting needle.

I remember her being given a stick with which to beat my "foster-brothers" by their mother. I remember her burning it.

I remember her explaining to me and my little sister, when we were arguing with the girls next door over whether or not you had to be married to have a baby, that "some people think it's best to wait until you are married." She's one of those some people, but she didn't say so. In Ireland. In the 1980s.

I remember her making my first communion dress and it being the nicest dress anyone had ever had. I remember she made a matching handbag. I remember she made my confirmation dress too, and decorated the buttons to match, the day after my father's mother's funeral. I remember she made my wedding dress without question and without flaw.

I remember that Santa gave me a Ballet-Dancing Sindy one Christmas, which I wanted because it had very very movable limbs. I remember that my Sindy came with handmade jeans, lumberjack shirt and sweater included in the box, stitched to the card with plastic thread just like real packaged presents. I remember receiving a Bosco puppet in a proper Bosco box, equipped with a bed and bedclothes and everything. I didn't find out the box was home-made for years and years.

I remember being taught to comfort eat: I was told that eating very sugary, starchy foods made me feel a bit better in the short term, and it was an ok thing to do. She explained quite a bit of the biology to me in a ways I understood at the tender age of 13. I remember comfort-eating porridge made with milk instead of water. And custard.

I remember pitying people with skinny mothers because they couldn't be as cuddly as mine. I remember hating her wearing lipstick. I remember thinking she was beautiful in an ancient, tatty cardigan. I remember her getting me French lessons after school. I remember her teaching me to use a grape scissors (my Nana had one) and how to arrange food to look attractive. I remember being sick in bed and getting breakfast on Wedgewood china because I was too grown up for Bunnykins - a small bowl with a satsuma broken into a flower shape, a mug of rosehip tea, some toast cut into small triangles, and a bowl of cereal. Milk in a little jug and sugar in a sugarbowl.

I remember that this was normal for us when we were sick and that I took it as my due - I was pleased about it, but not in the least surprised.

I remember that when I was miserably depressed in my teens, she offered to find out about fostering, in case I'd be happier in another family. I remember that she believed I wasn't doing drugs when all the psychologists were convinced I was (she was right - at the time I wasn't touching even alcohol). I remember that after I'd left home, she came and got me when I was ill or depressed.

I remember that she held my baby for me when I could not because I had given birth only three hours before and still couldn't move much.

I remember that ever single day in hospital, I had fresh ironed pyjamas and clean underwear.

I remember.

October 2017

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