5 THINGS THEY DON’T TELL YOU BEFORE HAVING A CHILD

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Prior to experiencing having a baby, my expectation was to simply push out my new gorgeous child, nestle it to my breast to feed and life would continue on in a bubble of blissful happiness. I must admit I was shocked by the reality of a number of things that would happen to my body, about which other Mums had never enlightened me. It was like there was a mother’s code of silence on these things, as if procreation would end if we knew the real truth. I’ve made a list of five things I wish I had known:

1. Breast feeding hurts

I expected to have my baby softly suckle my breast and that it would be a pleasant experience. Nothing prepared me for the feeling like someone had pliers on the end of my nipples trying to wrench them from my chest. The pain was excruciating and as neither my newborn nor I had any experience at breastfeeding I ended up with blisters and bleeding nipples. This certainly wasn’t in the brochure!

Don’t get me wrong, I wholly endorse breast feeding and in fact fed my own kids until they were each 12 months old. The good news is that after a few weeks your nipples go from areas of extreme sensitivity to toughened udders and then the health benefits and the convenience of breastfeeding outweigh the pain you went through in the first few weeks.

2. Sometimes you drown yourself in breast milk

I was blessed with an ample supply of milk, in fact, maybe too much! I once filled an entire baby bottle full of breast milk with leakage from the side from which I wasn’t currently feeding. The funny thing about your milk supply is that sometimes for no real reason, you have a let down of milk that leaves your top saturated. It could be hearing your baby cry, or another baby cry, or even just the thought that you will need to feed soon. Unfortunately, you have no control over this and even though breast pads will help absorb any leaking drips, they are no barrier for the flood of a let down. Just a note to self, not only carry a spare set of clothes for your baby, but for yourself too

3. After birth pains

I always thought all the pain was over and done once you pushed your baby out. I knew little about the post partum pains that occur when you breast feed. It is nature’s way of helping you get back into shape by contracting your uterus when you feed. In the early days, the pain I experienced was equivalent to early stage labour pains and I had to time pain relief to coincide with the time of the next feed.

4. Hair Loss

Your newborn baby is like a parasite, sapping all the goodness out of you. Your health comes second to providing nourishment to your child. After a few weeks you start losing copious amounts of hair. I lost so much hair that I often thought if I had spun it into thread, I could have knitted baby booties from it! The good news is that it does grow back, however for a period of time, you have a halo of short fuzz around your hairline. The purchase of a good hat cannot be underestimated.

5. Secret women’s business

If you consider your womb prior to conception as a lush, tropical oasis, after you have given birth it becomes the Sahara Desert. It is nature’s way to say to your partner, ‘Steer clear, I’m not fertile!’  All I can say is stock up on lubricants.

Whilst discussing issues of a woman’s private domain – I can’t emphasise enough the need to do pelvic floor exercises throughout your pregnancy and beyond. I have several friends that didn’t heed that advice and now can no longer belly laugh, sneeze or jump on a trampoline with their kids without a little leakage.

I’m sure other mums could add to this list with issues such as hemorrhoids, mastitis, episiotomies and varicose veins. I don’t want to be a scaremonger, but if you are like me, you like to go into situations knowing what to expect.

If you’ve had a baby, please share a comment with any other experiences that you think new Mums should expect.

 

 

 

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MY CHILD, THE IDENTITY THIEF!

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Prior to having children I was a strong, independent advertising executive, whose thoughts and ideas were valued. I then had a child and suddenly I changed from being Joanne Nicholson into being (insert relevant child’s name)’s Mum.

No longer did I spend my days being able to articulately justify how and why things needed to be done, I was instead faced with a child or children who if they didn’t agree with my sentiments just cried and screamed. I used to envy that if my husband had an issue at work he could calmly and rationally reach a solution with his colleagues, whilst I was left to spend my days with a tribe of small people who seemed to derive pleasure from watching me pull my hair out! My husband managed to complete projects and was rewarded for his efforts with a paycheck each week. Successful completion of my job meant that the kids were fed, entertained and kept safe, while keeping the house clean with food in the kitchen and clean clothes in the wardrobe – all for the princely sum of a big fat zero.  It was certainly a hit to the ego!

Even though the days were long, I wouldn’t have swapped it for the world, but I did have an issue with the fact that I no longer seemed to have an identity that did justice to the hard working conditions I had to now work under.

I remember attending a reunion at an advertising agency that I worked at, when an ex-colleague came to have a chat and asked ‘What are you doing now?’ A number of responses bounced around in my head ‘I’m CEO of my household’ seemed lame, ‘I’m a full time domestic goddess’ screamed diva, so I settled for ‘I’m just a Mum at the moment’.  Without any exaggeration, he literally mumbled ‘Oh,’ and then turned his back and walked away. I have never felt more worthless than to witness his reaction to me being a Mum.

In hindsight I felt that if I had said I was a full-time nanny, I would have had a legitimate career – but to be fair, nanny’s get to knock-off at the end of the day to go home, a full-time Mum doesn’t have that luxury.

When all is said and done, I’m really not sure why we are all so consumed with pigeon holing people by a title. Your work doesn’t define you – your opinions, attitude, ethics, honesty, loyalty, sense of humour, friendships, ability to love and be loved – these are the things that define you!

With increased maturity and less insecurity, I have learnt to embrace my role as a mother. It is my responsibility to shape the future generation, which is far more important than placing ads which are realistically just an inconvenience to people when watching their favourite show or reading a trashy mag. I can now hold my head high and admit proudly that I am mother, and yes I don’t get paid for my hard work; because what I do is priceless!

ARE WE THERE YET?

Travelling on a long car trip with a crying baby is like being trapped in a cage with a wild animal. The minutes seem like hours and you are frazzled before you even reach your destination.

I remember one trip when my eldest daughter was a baby. She was howling like a banshee and the only way I could get her to be quiet was to sing louder than she could cry. She would stop crying to hear what I was singing and so started a very, very long journey.

I started with nursery rhymes and when I got onto ‘Old Macdonald had a farm’, I thought I had hit the jackpot – that is a song with unlimited verses! I started with the obligatory cow and pig, but when the animals that could be found on a farm were running out, I moved onto animals you’d find in the Serengeti like lions and elephants (I’m not sure what sound a giraffe makes). When they dried up I moved onto underwater animals (they are on the whole a silent bunch) and eventually onto cars, trucks and tractors. By the time I reached my destination I was hoarse from being a horse!

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On subsequent trips I tried substituting my voice with songs from a Wiggles CD, but they never seemed to have the same effect of stemming the tears as when I sang. Furthermore, it is a dangerous thing to drive and do ‘Hot Potato’ dance hands simultaneously!

My fourth child on the other hand never got to listen to Hi5 and Wiggles songs in the car, instead the radio played top 40. By the age of eighteen months could do a mean rendition of Justin Timberlake’s ‘Sexy back’.

Today I am grateful for what I deem to be one of the world’s best inventions – the in-car DVD player. My kids pop on their noise cancelling headphones and zone into a movie, whilst my husband and I listen to music up front. Those headphones not only cancel out surrounding sound for the kids, but seem to magically cancel out the sound coming from them. We now answer the ‘Are we there yet?’ question in terms of movie length (eg. just one movie more until we arrive).

Noisy, tear shedding car trips are a thing of the past and I have retired my hot potato hands, hopefully to never be seen again!

 

 

Picture courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net

THE PRESSURE TO BE THE PERFECT PARENT

When you cradle your precious child in your arms for the first time you are overwhelmed with such a pure love – a devotion that will last a lifetime and will see you go to extreme lengths to keep your child safe, nourished and loved. It is at this time that the pressure begins for you to become the perfect parent.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a perfect parent and the pressure from media (and honestly ourselves) leads us to feel guilty that we are not fulfilling every possible facet of the job description to our best ability.

The truth is, parenting is hard work and there’s no training, no sick days, no appreciation and no pay! Love our children as we may, there are days when we would all eagerly swap our kids for a sun lounge by a resort pool! That doesn’t make you a bad parent; it just makes you human.

The nagging, discipline and chores involved in raising a child don’t always allow us to be the sweet, loving, fun Mum that we all aspire to be. 

As a parent we have to juggle running the household, caring for kids, supporting our partner, assisting at school, playing taxi for extracurricular activities, helping with homework, managing sporting teams and maybe even holding down a job too!

So if at the end of the day, you have managed to keep your kids out of harms way, fed them, educated them and had time to give them a kiss and cuddle, then I think you are doing a stellar job!

When you next see someone expounding the virtues of certain gourmet meals, education techniques or extraordinary craft projects, don’t feel guilty that you are not the perfect parent instead be proud of the effort you put into raising your kids. Maybe one day (or at least on Mother’s Day) your kids will thank you for all that you do for them.

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

THE ‘C’ WORD

If there is one word that sends shivers down my spine it is the ‘C’ word – Cancer!

 

Today I am attending the funeral of a brave lady who recently lost her long battle with this insidious monster. She showed such courage and composure throughout her treatment. Her bravery was unbelievable. This lady was very entrenched in the school community and gave her all to support her sons.

 

This Mum was the epitome of an organized multitasker – she even planned her funeral down to the music and flowers and ensured her sons had suits purchased in readiness.

 

It breaks my heart to think that she will miss her son’s graduations, marriages and children. It seems so unfair that she has been robbed of such rights of passage.

 

She is just one of many brave mothers that I know who are currently fighting this devastating disease. I take my hat off to these women who are juggling the demands of motherhood with the dreadful reality of treatment.

 

I am in awe of the mental strength of these women and I wish I had a miracle cure to ease their suffering.

 

So when your kids are making a mess and being too noisy tonight, take a moment to be grateful that you are here to experience them growing up. I used hate the thought of growing old, but I now think it is a privilege – one that too many wonderful mothers will miss out on because of that hideous ‘C’ word.

 

 

Please feel free to share if you know someone affected by cancer.

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

‘ME TIME’ FOR MUMS IS HEALTHY FOR KIDS

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

The toughest time as a Mum is when your kids are toddlers and consume all your waking (and sometimes sleeping) hours. It is hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel – a time when you can have a life that resembles something close to that prior to kids.

Considering in an average week that we are at our kids beck and call for 168 hours, is it unreasonable to take 3 hours (1.8% of available time) to dedicate one hour, three times a week to ourselves?

Exercise is the perfect way to clear your mind and lose your Mummy muffin top. Did you know that an average step class will allow you to burn over 600 calories per hour? Staying fit and healthy yourself is paramount to being able to look after your kids. Studies have shown that when you exercise it clears the mind, lifts your mood and gives you energy. So by taking out a few hours a week to spend time on yourself, you are providing a calmer, happier and healthier Mum for your kids.

Start this routine while your kids are young so they don’t know any different! I always found gym creches to be a supportive and fun environment for my kids. It provided a safe place where they got to hone their socialization skills while I tried to tone my post baby body. I understand that not all kids cope well in this type of environment and not everyone is in a position to afford a gym membership. If you are more an outdoor type of person, even a chance to tag team on babysitting duties with your partner to go for walk, run, ride or swim is time well spent.

So instead of feeling guilty about leaving your kids to have some ‘me time’ consider that you are doing them a favour, as it will give them a happier, healthier and more patient Mum for the other 165 hours a week.

What are your thoughts? Let me know.

TRIGONOMETRY AND OTHER IRRELEVANT INFORMATION

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I remember as a student in high school, staring into middle space, wondering why they teach us such irrelevant skills such as trigonometry.

I mean when in the real world would you call upon tan, cos or sin in your everyday life? If you were truly flying a kite and it got stuck in a tree and you measured the tree was 50 metres high and you were standing 30 metres from the tree, would you really care what angle the kite’s string is off the ground? I think not!

In reality, I would either yank really hard to get the kite down or cut the string and walk away…..then race to the shops to replace the kite and return it to my child’s room, before they realised their mum has been out playing with their toys again!

So my whole life I have thought the concept of trigonometry irrelevant and a waste of time. That was until my daughter started studying trigonometry in maths at school. It was only then that it became clear. The time in your life that having learnt trigonometry becomes important is when your child is staring blankly at a text book and needs assistance in understanding trigonometry!

I guess the morale of this story is that no matter how irrelevant the things that you learn in life seem, maybe one day you will be called upon to dig them up from the recesses of your mind to pass on this irrelevant knowledge to the future generation. No experience or knowledge is a waste of time – you never know when you will find a time that it comes in handy!