Today Gorgeous Gorgeous had an explosive nappy whilst we were in the local library. I spent twenty minutes cleaning and changing her (2 layers of clothes and a pram suit!) in the library’s only toilet, whilst a rude, angry old man banged on the door. Despite sticking my head out a few times to explain and apologise he continued to thump on the door without once actually opening his mouth. I mean, as if this mumhood malarkey isn’t stressful enough, there I am literally cleaning up shit on a manky, changing table in a less than clean public loo, giving my poor babe the worlds speediest, most vigorous wet wipe bath (it was in her armpit) of her life because I felt embarrassed, frustrated and under pressure from some mardy old man rattling the door every 10 seconds. Unusually for me, my embarrassed, awkwardness tipped into anger and I lost my shit (pun intended).
I marched out of the loo red faced and angry. I shouted at the grumpy old toad and told him that “as soon as you get in there and lock the door, I’m going to stand out here and rattle and bang the door to see how you like it..” I didn’t do that obviously, but I did stomp through the library, past all the ‘quiet please’ signs, yelling what a rude and obnoxious man he was.
Once I calmed downed, I obviously felt so ashamed of myself. He probably just really needed a wee right? Anyone else get Mum Rage?
Hyperemesis Gravidarum or HG is a little known pregnancy complication. A sufferer (and it is a suffering) has severe nausea, and vomiting, which can lead to weight loss and dehydration. It is more than just morning sickness. It can sometimes last the entire pregnancy (for me until 30 weeks) and affects less than 2% of women. There is no known cause.
I am one of the lucky ones. I only lost weight in the first trimester and suffered severe dehydration once. Some women require hospitalisation a few times throughout their pregnancies and can vomit 30+ times a day. My personal best was 19.
This is a really difficult post for me to write. I don’t want to say it out loud as I am ashamed. In a world in which this Baby is the most hoped, wished, loved and longed for being, there were a few times I found myself wishing that I wasn’t pregnant, wishing it would all just stop.
Whilst I had my head in the toilet for the 20th time, violently vomiting up my stomach lining (i’d not eaten for 48 hours), listening to yet another opinionated, interfering, arsehole ask if I had tried eating a ginger biscuit (ffs!), I can appreciate how persuasive that thought can be. Fortunately for me, HG didn’t become a serious illness. I was a lucky one. For some Mother’s, a decision has to be made for her own physical and mental wellbeing.
I can only touch on my own experience and it’s really challenging to put down in words how much it affected me mentally as well as physically. Instead, I’m going to direct you to a couple of links that helped me during my pregnancy.
It’s been more than 12 months since my last blog post. It turns out that the withdrawal symptoms of a sugar free diet are also the same as early pregnancy symptoms!
In fact, pretty much all of my ‘sugar free’ symptoms are the same as what I experienced whilst pregnant with BV. I was so sure in fact that I took a pregnancy test. It was negative. However, the idea was in my head, I was so sure I was pregnant. I knew the test was wrong. I waited until the following day and I took another test (again negative), in fact I took a test a further 3 more times (all negative!) before the 5th one gave me a very faint positive. I knew it. I was knocked up with no.2.
Mr Intrepid and I were ecstatic. I was ready for it. I was hoping to blog my way through this pregnancy with cute, accuracy of what it is to be pregnant, a week by week growth of this little one. However, the little bean had other ideas. She (yes this one is a girl!) was determined to make me suffer more than BV ever did. I felt like hell.
I fainted all over the place, I had nosebleeds, headaches, sore limbs, and my god I was tired.
I had no energy and I was fucking exhausted. Pregnancy is hard and I had a toddler now this time. 6 weeks in I began to get really unwell. The nausea had kicked in, only this time there was vomiting too. All day and all night long. I was throwing up in carrier bags on my daily commute, in nappy bags whilst changing my son’s nappies, in the shower and once actually in the street. I couldn’t catch a break. I could barely get through the day, there was no way I was blogging about it.
1 year later, on maternity leave, the baby naps are back. Despite popular advice I can’t nap when baby naps (who would hang up the washing?), I am ready to get back on the blogging band wagon. First up, I want to spread awareness of a little know pregnancy condition, Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG).
Dear Judgy McJudgyson, if that’s even your real name…?
Why do you do it? Silently judging parents and how they parent, particularly if they parent differently from you. Does it come from your own insecurity? Are other parents’ methods making you question your own methods? No one wants to think they’re not doing right by their child. You are having doubts. In this competitive sport that parenting has become, your way is the only way.
However, your silent judging isn’t so silent anymore. I can hear you.
You’re staring at me. You’re pointing and whispering-“I can’t believe she’s doing that” saying that/allowing that” Well listen up Judgy McJudgyson, so what if I am?!
Somehow every parenting decision I have ever made is fair game for criticism: Did I find out the sex? What kind of birth did I have?, Does my child have his own room? Am I going to breastfeed?, Why am I still breastfeeding? Do I allow my child to watch TV?, Is he still in nappies? Oh.My.Effing.God!, Are you going out? Without him?
“Oh” you say, “I’m not doing that” (eye roll). Why do you care whether or not my child watches CBeebies 12 hours a day, eats ice cream for dinner or spends most of the night cuddled up in my bed instead of his own?
Do you know what’s really helpful? I am cramming my heart and soul into raising my son, struggling with a myriad of everyday, normal woes, financial, health, work -whatever – when I am judged by you. Super mum, who arrogantly knows just what to do. It’s amazing. And oh so welcome. Because that’s what I need: a kick in the teeth by someone who’s got this mothering thing in the bag.
Your judging has sadly become part of my mum culture. I try to keep my opinions to myself, my own mum taught me if I’ve nothing nice to say then I shouldn’t say anything at all. And this is (mostly) how I live. I remove myself from the situation. I do not need your opinions and I do not need you.
I know I’m never going to stop noticing how other mums do their thing and wondering how my own choices stack up. I think it’s fine to notice. It’s fine to discuss our differences. Whatever works-right? I know I’m not like you. I hope I’m not like you. I never want to make any mum or parent feel the way you make me feel.
We are supposed to share our war stories with each other. Offer a hand, an ear or a cup of tea. I’m on an island and I can’t swim, for fucks sake pass me a fucking life belt!
It’s become the norm to mercilessly judge our fellow parents, yet behind closed doors we share the same worries and angst. We should be mindful of each other’s feelings. Somewhere along the way we have forgotten, that we’re all on the same team. What’s that African proverb….? Oh yes, It takes an entire village to raise a child.
Well listen up Judgy McJudgyson, you can roll your eyes at me and point your finger all you like but you and I are the same. We are mums and we need each other, so Mum the fuck up and join this village!
As a child I’d cry if anyone came to the house, and not just strangers; I remember sitting at the top of the stairs at Bromley Cres. crying my eyes out because my Grandparents whom I loved, had come to visit. The cheek of it!
Fortunately, I am no longer shy in my every day life. I enjoy meeting new people and I am confident in one-to-one situations. I’ve got several close best friends, including some that go as far back as school days; and I have a phone book full of mums whom I see pretty much every week. Cram them all in to my flat for a sober, toddler birthday party and I am sick with nerves.
I love to have guests, but I’m not much of an inviter, self-consciousness creeps in and overwhelms my good intentions.
Growing up, I don’t recall ever having a birthday party although I attended many. I always assumed it was because of the expense (5 kids, 5 birthday parties) but now I have realised it is just too stressful. When I was 11 and in my first year of secondary school, myself and my two younger siblings begged to have a party, and eventually we wore our folks down and convinced them in to agreeing to letting us have a Christmas Party. One condition. I had to share it with my little brother. Easy.
He invited his entire class and I invited a select number of my own classmates. I was too embarrassed to invite boys, so I invited girls only, including some of the “cool” girls. I was painfully shy and hitting puberty- can’t imagine why I thought this would be a great idea. The “cool” girls obviously didn’t attend (No boys – duh!) and that was it for me.
I was picked on and bullied after this for not being “cool”. Do you remember when you were at school and there was always the one kid in the class that really smelt? Or, everyone saidreally smelt, and you went along with it just grateful that you weren’t the smelly kid? Well, I was the smelly kid. Or at least, I was the kid everyone called the smelly kid. I think it was because (despite the fact I was showering 2-3 times a day in attempts to just not be the smelly kid) once in PE I didn’t use deodorant (for fucks sake, how many 11 year old’s use deodorant?). Anyway I am digressing, these days I try to avoid hosting.
For my sons birthday I teamed up with a lovely, sociable mum (whom also had a birthday tot), my wing woman, (safety in numbers and all that) and planned an outdoor party in the park (neutral ground). I don’t know what I was thinking to be honest, I am a rubbish hostess. Hosting is most definitely not my forte. Anyway, of course my leading lady got sick and the rains came, oh and Sainsbury’s didn’t deliver my grocery’s due to a “technical error”…I needed a Plan B. Let’s have the party here in my home! You know, the one where I avoid hosting coffee mornings or playdates at? Great idea stupid ass. Rarely does anyone get an invite to my flat, I dislike it so much. We are fortunate enough to live in a very affluent area with pretty river views and lovely neighbours. However, I live above a pub in an old flat. On the upside, the windows and ceilings are high and magnificent, and the flat is spacious and light, and the downside? the kitchen looks like it belongs in a 1980’s youth hostel, and the bathroom grows more mould than Alexander Flemming. Hardly yummy mummy territory.
I want to invite, I really do. I know how loved I feel when I’m invited. I watch friends do it with ease and grace and admire them for their ability to fold people into their lives. I can’t concentrate once the anxiety sets in. The promise of forced interaction in the name of good parenting instills a panic. What if no one shows up?, or worse, what if they do? Oh god, what if they notice my washing drying in the bedroom, or that my bathroom towels don’t match?
Sweat trickles down my back and my lips are dry. I am talking. I am not sure what about, I am talking non stop. I am acutely aware of the awkwardness I’m desperately trying to hide. I can’t tell if my guests are startled by my deliberate effervescence or if they think I am witty and charming (I did make them wear moustaches!) I am 20% having an ok time, and 80% racking my brain for something to say and wondering when they can all go home? I am at my most uncomfortable as I do my best to ensure everyone is having a nice time. My surface level housekeeping, eclectic furniture, fear of saying the wrong thing, and decidedly awkward inability to offer anyone a drink, stops me, if I even have a minute to think about being a hostess.
I am lucky enough to have an amazing husband with a level head. Mr Intrepid works in hospitality which we all know is technically hosting for a living. He is charming and he iswitty and despite the fact that this party is for a 2 year old, his emergency trip to Waitrose brings us booze. Hurrah.
Oh and there were cakes!
Happy 2 year old? Tick #ParentingWin
Parents plied with booze mid afternoon with no offer of an alternative, whilst being ordered to wear moustaches?
#Hostingwin? – jury’s still out on that one!
I’m not trying to be one of those cool sweary blogger mums, but my reality is I’m just a swearer. All the effing time. I can’t help it. I use it for enthusiasm and humour and just plain habit. I don’t think about it enough, to always rein it in.
I swear in front of my son. I try not too, especially now he’s talking and absorbing every little thing like a sponge, but sometimes a perfectly timed F-bomb just slips right out.
I have stopped worrying about it. I think that actually, it’s ok. Swearing has its place; it’s always my honest, and emotional reaction. It’s instinct. When I love something – coffee, art, a cool bar, – I fucking love it. I am celebrating my joy in life, with words, and to be honest, fuck happens to be one of my favourites.
I want my son to see me as a real, honest and straight talking person, with real life feelings, and to see how I react and cope with normal daily life. I am trying to replace the shits with the sugars and the fucks with the fluffs but what’s the point, when 10 minutes later I stub my toe and an array of unstoppable, colourful words just pop right out?
I don’t want to tip-toe around touchy subjects. You will not find rose-tainted, sugar coated explanations here. I want to teach my son to be passionate about life. I couldn’t care less if you think I am a bitch (I’m not!) or if you think I am a ‘bit of a dick’ for speaking out against discrimination, bullying or life’s unfairness. I will not be apologetic for standing up for my son, my friends or myself. I am not violent nor am I a hater, but anyone who fucks with my loved ones will be torn to pieces with my sharp tongue and explosive vocabulary. I use swear words to express my emotions, whether that be happy or sad, angry or fluffing elated . I swear my way through life’s tricky situations and well, at the end of the day, Fuck is just a word.
A word in itself, any word, isn’t harmful unless it is used in a harmful way. Harm is determined by how the word is used. If you’re using expletives to verbally and emotionally attack, then of course this is harmful. However, if you spill your Tea and your first reaction is to blurt out ‘oh, bugger’ then that my friends is just reality.
I am teaching my son to express himself in cathartic and productive ways. I do not want him to be worried about being judged by everyone around him, and I want him to be tolerant, empathetic and non-judgemental in return. I want him to know that when someone does judge him, and makes him feel anything less than brilliant, that fuck off is a completely acceptable response.
I don’t for a minute wish for you to think that I tolerate or condone this kind of language. I don’t want my son to swear, (and I will do what I can to discourage it), but I also don’t feel like I have to censor myself. He will grow up responsible and educated enough to appreciate that there are some things kids can do, and there are some things only adults can do. If I censor all of this, how can I expect him to work it out?
Language is a powerful tool. Being a parent has taught me that there is as much menace in “get down from there, now” then there is in any profanity I use when I stub my toe, and that “you fucking idiot” has the same attacking undertones as “you idiot“. Context is everything. So, when BV falls over and lets rip with a “dammit, mummy” (true story!) I will stifle a giggle and give zero fucks whatsoever….
It has been 20 years since The Spice Girls released ‘Wannabe” (man I am old!) and I remember it well. Rumoured to have been written in just 20 minutes, it topped the UK Singles Chart for seven weeks, eventually becoming the best-selling single by a female group in the world, and selling over 7 million copies worldwide by the end of 1997. Wow.
The Spice Girls helped pave the way for us women ( I am not forgetting there were plenty of empowering, legendary women previously… but that’s a different story…). The Spice Girls were trailblazers of independence, assertiveness, ambition and sexuality. They knew the power of a sisterhood. They gave us Girl Power, and are the epitome of Girl Gang.
I was part of a small clique whilst I was at school, back then I was the runt of the litter, adopted by a group of sassy girls after a few years of loneliness. They were my Girl Gang.
We lived the 1990’s. We survived falling in a bog (you know who you are) on our Duke of Edinburgh Award, we sang our heart outs to Oasis and Pulp, and pretended we didn’t like Take That, we used fake ID’s to get into clubs (it’s rude to ask a lady her age!), and covered for each other with boys, parents and teachers! There was an unspoken agreement of support and unity. Despite spending all of the 1990s sat on a wall in the worlds tiniest mini skirts, we had each other’s backs.
As an adult I’ve (without intent) formed a grown up Girl Gang. They don’t differ too much from the young girls I knew 2 decades ago. I’ve worked with them and lived with them, partied with them, cried with them, travelled with them and said goodbye to them. These women have supported me during relationship woes, carried me home drunk, carried me through the mud at Glastonbury (whilst 6 months pregnant) planned my hen party, been my bridesmaids, cooked me meals, ate my meals…. I’ve missed them and I’ve loved them. They keep me sane and focused, and wild and drunk (less so now I’m a mother-that would be irresponsible…) They do not all live in close proximity, and they are often busy but, I have them.
I lost myself when I became a mum, I was lonely. I didn’t know how to combine my old life with this new one. Until now.
Last week I went for dinner with a group of mums in my local area. We are a local Facebook group, a Whatsapp group and a mum group. These women are beautiful and strong. I have gotten to know them in the last couple of years. Most of them are women I have met at coffee mornings and baby groups. They are all different. Some of us are women whose paths would never had crossed if we hadn’t become a mum at the same time. In some cases, it’s the only thing we have in common. As I sat there scoffing my face with pizza and red wine, listening to these women talk and laugh together, I looked around at these mums and I realised something. I am once again part of a girl gang.
We can chat, or we can cry. Drink too much coffee, drink too much wine (hic!), talk about our husbands and our kids, talk about work or lack of it. We can bitch and vent, and laugh. Or we can simply just be (netflix and chill?). Sometimes theres a birthday or a playdate or a happy hour but always, its us, the Mum Gang.
I am thankful for my Girl Gang . We are there for each other no matter what. Just like our 90’s sisters before us, we have each other’s back. ‘We is a sisterhood, innit?’ 🤘🏻
I am proud too of labels I am known by: wife, daughter, sister, friend, weird tattooed girl with the metal in her face (true story!) and yes, a mother.
However, I am also proud to be that mother. I have judged, and I have been judged.
I am a ‘helicopter’ mum. I need to stay close to my boy, how else can I really know for sure that he is ok? I will smother him with love if that means he will grow up never doubting it.
I am a ‘sanctimummy’. Of course my way is the best way. It has to be like this. What kind of mum would this make me, if I had no idea what I’m doing? I may not be tutting, but I am judging. Myself though, obviously. If you think I have my shit together then I am winning at something. Woohoo.
I am a Tiger Mum. I am demanding. I want my child to grow up compassionate and smart, kind and strong. I want him to be all the things I strive to be, and I will push him until he knows he can be everything and more.
All of these labels are ways to judge and criticise but I am proud to have them all.
Mothering is hard and I’m winging it working at it…everyday. I am not a designer handbag, but I am in every sub category of mother, I am all of the mothers, and I am the mother, and I am fricking awesome.
Please follow Jenna’s posts here, and if you’re in need of some fellow mummy support or amazing pregnancy and birth hippy love, then here’s where you can find it! ❤️ www.doulanatal.co.uk