Growing Up – How Old Is Old Enough?

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My oldest daughter turned 8 recently, she is in the first year of Junior School and this seems to be representing a change in our world.  Some days, it’s a pretty dramatic change in our world, as the moods swing from high to low with the blink of an eye.  I can’t help but wonder what the puberty years will bring, if she is already so emotional …. time to build a shelter and take cover!  Gone are the cutesy stories about little children; we all love the little babies and preschool children, they are so adorable; strangers stop you in the street to admire them, we proudly show them off and laugh at their quirky behaviour, we swap stories about the funny things they say.  Then bang, cute turns into mini grown-ups overnight; people don’t see cute anymore, they see annoying children, they wish they had chosen the pub / restaurant that openly shuns the custom of children, they want the child free hotels, they want anything but your slightly older child running and screaming around the garden.

To me they are forever cute and even in the darkest hours, I don’t think I could love them more, but I respect they can be incredibly annoying to the general public. I am not going to lie, they can be incredibly annoying to me too.

My current issue with the mini adult is make-up.  When is it OK to say yes to anything other than a face painted tiger?  Last week, there was the monumental tantrum of all tantrums, in public, following the refusal to buy a toddler’s piano book.  I remind you, she is 8, not 3!  Don’t worry I am not repressing her musical talent, she has since been placated with a piano app, so much kinder on the ears than the plinky plonky book version. Following this tantrum, in my weakened state, I said yes to the obligatory child’s make-up set and yes, it brought her out in a rash.  But before said rash, she spent 3 mornings happily sitting at her desk putting her makeup on, it was very sweet to see and made her so happy.  I had hoped that with back up from Dad, we might get it removed before she left the house, but he melted at the look of pride on her face, so off we went each day with our little princess in her eye shadow and blusher.  It was very subtly done, but she really could do with a few lessons on how to apply.  But by day 3, the rash was getting worse, so she decided that new special makeup must be purchased.  I should point out that none of her money has been wasted in this venture so far, and I am pretty certain she expects this new improved version to be funded by us too. So, what now for disappointed child, is it the real thing, at the same cost us poor adults have to pay?

I grew up in a time when both women and men wore heavy, obvious makeup (guess the era!).  I was in full foundation, the works, by 13 and have not stopped since.  As I struggle with this whole ageing thing, I can’t start the day without the application of full makeup, even the lure of extra time in bed can’t stop me needing my makeup fix.  I know I look more respectable to world with it, and other than a commando style run to the bin, I never leave the house without it.  This sends a rubbish message to my children; I am being a hypocrite saying they don’t need makeup and then plastering myself in it.  Apparently as I age, I should be wearing more age appropriate subtle makeup too, according to the experts…. Pah!  Plus, at a times when I could barely afford food, I still had to fund the makeup habit (is that the distant sound of violins I hear?!) It is not a cheap habit to get into. I am not keen on funding her new-found makeup fad, but will be sad if she feels she has to spend her valuable pocket money on it.  How do we keep this from spiralling into a need to be made up?  Will it eventually be that she feels more confident with it, than without it, or am I just getting way to ahead of myself?

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I don’t have the piercing issue as mine cant even cope with a paper cut, they have no desire to stick needles through their ears, or any other body part, I wonder if that will change.  So at least that is one battle I can leave for later years.  I’m not too worried on that front though, as long as it is done professionally, but is that because I know I don’t have to worry yet?  But makeup is here and it’s now.  Dad, being from quite an old fashioned, ‘traditional’ family, thinks this one is down to me.  I want them to be free to experiment and grow as their own people, but it is such a fine line between experimenting for fun and the pressure to look amazing, #nofilters!  All that said, I am about to go out and buy blusher, for fear of her skin if she uses the kid’s version again.  Luckily the lipsticks were fake, so for now a bit of lip balm/gloss seems to be acceptable.  I will always encourage them to be their own people, I will be open about my need for makeup, along with my sadness that I feel this need.  I want them to make choices for themselves and no one else, not because of what they see and read about, but because it makes them happy.  I’m in for the long haul on this one, I see many discussions ahead.

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#Internet Awareness – “Google It Mummy!”

In the modern world of technology, how do we keep our children safe without demonizing the thing that has brought us all together in this big world of ours?  I grew up in a time when there was no internet; yes, that time actually existed and I made it through.

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Children and young people need to find their way in life, unfortunately, sometimes whilst doing this, they can demonstrate cruel and abusive behaviour.  Don’t think that the cruel, sometimes evil comments on social media are a new thing, there were plenty of young people and adults who were just as capable of saying cruel things face to face.  Yes, it was nice to be able to go home and hide from it, but in our heads, we didn’t hide, we played the comments over and over, believed them, said them out loud until the last threads of self-esteem slid away.  But there was less opportunity to hear the good stuff; the kind comments, the comments that build you up.  I think that people find it awkward and sometimes embarrassing to give compliments to people’s faces, but hiding behind the phone, tablet, computer screen, makes it so much easier to boost people, we hear what other people are doing through the medium of social media, be it true or false, or maybe bigged up, we still comment and compliment them.  It makes people feel good to read it and it feels quite nice doing it too.

I got into blogging because I wanted to write, but I was also conscious that I was falling behind with technology since leaving an office environment.  I wanted to get more clued up on what was out there, I’ve already added a few new websites to my favourites and got some new apps on the phone.  I now need to demonstrate safe internet activity to my children, then find out more and understand what they are getting into.  That is my choice and the way I want to handle it, it’s not everyone cup of tea and they are no less aware for it.  How you find awareness for you and your child is your choice; but please do it.  It is a sad world; we are all too aware of some of the evils that lurk around the corners, we can’t hide our children forever, as one day they will need to protect themselves.  They need the education and awareness that we will teach them to ‘stay safe’

Facebook / Snap Chat / Twitter – all those social chat sites

I choose to expose my children to social media under my supervision.  At 6 and 8 they are beginning to be curious as they hear more and more from friends, and hear mention on TV programmes.  We use Facebook together, through my account, but it is heavily monitored and I am still to decide on when they get their own accounts.  They watch the kitten, hamster, or whatever the generic cute animal video of the day is; they check the posts of their own pictures and they get to see pictures of friends who we don’t see very often.  My profile is very private (I’ve even set up a fake profile so that I can regularly check in on what none friends see, bit over the top maybe, but it just gave me that little bit of security in the knowledge I am not sharing our pics to none friends) I am currently trying to explain to the girls that the powers that be, behind FB, are quite controlling over what we see, so our friends might not always get to the see the posts and like, or comment on them.  I realised a little while ago that the girls were getting hung up on counting the likes.  I am really glad we have discovered this so young, so that I have time to explain to them that Facebook is just for fun and by no means a measure of our popularity.  The last thing I want is for them to build up their ‘friend’ numbers to make themselves feel popular.  It will be a slow process of educating them.  FB may not be around when they hit their teens, but we can guarantee there will be something similar.

We use Snapchat for fun; they have no idea that they can send their pictures to other people and often ask me to post the pics on Facebook.  They are more into pictures than words, so they check out Instagram, but so far, they haven’t picked up on what it’s all about.  I am not a great user of Twitter and they are much too young to really care about that one.  They are allowed to message Daddy and other family member, but not without me watching over them.   They are desperate for their own phones, but purely to play games and take photos, they really don’t care about communicating with the outside world yet.  I am dreading the time that we have to talk about what is appropriate in a message, but hopefully by the time it is necessary, they will have some idea of the negative side of internet access.  That way we can achieve a healthy balance between having fun, but also being cautious.

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YouTube

We have the age restriction setting on YouTube; so, they are allowed to watch that solo, but I frequently check in on their activity.  To be honest I can usually hear the Peppa Pig theme tune blaring out, so I know we are pretty safe – don’t ask me why they still watch Peppa Pig at their age, but I love that they do and long may the innocence last.  In the early days of their YouTube journey, there was an incident with a Charlie and Lola video that had been changed to a Halloween version, luckily, we spotted it quite quickly.  Put us off for a while though, so we waited for them to be a little older before we left them alone with it again; I still blame Dad for that one!  I have a pet hate for the bizarre videos of adults demonstrating playing with toys; kids are fascinated by them, but I banned them.  Why are these people playing with toys and making videos of it, they always have really annoying voices too …. Apologies if you are one of these video makers, sorry they are just not for me.  So being the mean Mummy I am, they were banned and weirdly the children have stuck with this ban, without question.  We had lots of chats about why they concerned me and apparently, they took it on board.  I always explain my reasons.

YouTube has been really useful on their learning journey; they still love Geraldine The Giraffe doing her phonics, we learned to do the dab and our times tables using the many educational channels out there.  It can be a fantastic learning tool for both young and old.

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Fake News

Now I heard that my Year 3 daughter had a talk about Fake News yesterday; I didn’t actually get any information out of her, but she seemed quite interested in it all.  I am a great believer in that most news has a biased spin on it, fake or not fake, we sometimes need to hear more than one side to the story.  I am working to teach my children to listen to other people’s opinions and versions of events.  I often explain that what we read, or hear, may not be true.  Whatever I read on FB, I seek out other sources just to check how true it might be.  This is something they can learn through example and modelled behaviour; if they see us lapping up the gossip news and believing it, they will do the same.  Read the gossip, enjoy it, laugh at it, but remember to tell them that it might not be all that it seems and is only one person’s version of events.

Photos and Imaging

This is a big one for me as I have spent my life being heavily influenced by the pictures of the beautiful people and trying to attain a perfection that just was not there for me.  I have body image issues, but whether they are related to those images of perfection or not, I will never know.  I am really lucky to have two beautiful daughters who are a healthy weight and despite a slight sugar addiction, are highly unlikely to ever be overweight.  I work hard to build confidence in their appearance and talk about makeup being a nice to have, not a need to have.  I enjoy photography and am careful not to filter their pictures.  I will eventually highlight the difference between photos filtered and not filtered.  I am not yet in that place where we need to talk intimate photos, but for now I will just continue to build on their self-respect and educate as we go.  Using Snapchat is a great way to highlight how filters really alter a ‘real’ image; it’s fun but not a true representation. They love filming random videos, but for now they are for personal consumption, I have not allowed any on Facebook; when I do, I will ensure they understand they must check with me and the others in the videos first.

Google – Other search engines are available!

Children ask endless questions; gone are the days when we could just make up a quick answer and they would go away happy; in our house, one question leads to another and another and another, until I am left wondering the answers myself.  I used to say; “I don’t know, I will have to Google it.”  Now they are learning how to Google themselves, but I still get the comment, “Google it Mummy!” on a regular basis.  In my endless quest for knowledge on behalf of me and my children, I would be lost without Google.  It is something DD1 has been learning to use at school and I know she will now be exposed to those sites that pop up when you least expect them, there will be questions about words and images she sees, but there will also be a world of information at her fingertips.  They have started using Google Earth and are fascinated by it, “What country do you want to look at today Mummy?”  They did struggle with spelling Venezuela though!

Gaming and Educational Sites

Gaming is not an area I am familiar with, all those years ago, I tried Tomb Raider and couldn’t even get out of the practice bit. I can just about manage the Wii racing games, but even then, I spend more time facing the wrong way, or being upside down, than racing.  There are games consoles in our house, but mostly, all the children want to do is play games on tablets with the occasional bit of Wii action.  They tried Minecraft, but between us we couldn’t get very far, so we resorted to Candy Crush and they seem happy.  Games are brilliant for improving coordination and learning problem solving; I limit the time and ensure the content is age appropriate, but I am all for the experience in moderation.  The schools all sign up to online education sites; our current one is Purple Mash, learning through play is such a brilliant tool.  If they want to play Purple Mash, then who am I to stop their learning.  We stop ‘blue screen’ time before bath and they get at least an hour, if not more before bed without it.  It is always a book at bedtime, just to keep it old school.

It is my job to hover in the background, whatever they are doing on the phone, tablet, laptop, game consoles, keep a check, but let them learn and be independent.  They need to learn to assess a situation, decide on what is appropriate, learn to respect themselves and others, but most of all be free to have fun and learn.

Equality…..Should it be about being equal, or being an individual?

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Are we obsessing about being equal and perhaps forgetting that we are unique individuals? I don’t need to be equal to be me, I need to be loved, admired, cared for, respected, listened too ….. the list is endless, but maybe I don’t need to be a manager in big business, or running a high turnover company.  We focus on women in ‘men’s’ careers and making it to the boardroom, but don’t forget the women out there who are already smashing it as Doctors, nurses, teachers, mothers, cleaners, care assistants, architects, engineers, the list goes on.  Plus aren’t the jobs just jobs, and not either men’s or women’s? There is an army of women and men out there creating things from home to sell; working around the childcare issues, the cost of travel, and making it work for them and their families.  There is a wave of production going on in this country that is almost overlooked.  We are women and men heading up our own big businesses, we might make a fortune, we might not, but we will support ourselves and our families

Most of all, I just want the right to choose.  Whether we are male, female, transgender, gender neutral, it is all about choice.  Voting is about choice, we are currently celebrating getting the vote, so let us choose who and what we are; be who we want to be.  Don’t make us feel like we have to be a man in this world, it is still OK to be a woman; we should be proud.  There is too much pressure to be someone in this world, make money, succeed, be the best.  Being the best is amazing and succeeding is great, but take it from one who knows, sometimes being the best is not something we can attain, so being the best, we can be, is more than enough.  We need to make sure we are heading in the right direction; down the path we want and not the path we think we should want.  If a woman chooses to stay at home, or chooses a career in business over having children, some women choose to do both, it’s not a big deal, it’s just their path.  We wouldn’t make a fuss over a man’s choice of career, it would just be accepted.

In my long working career, I have seen equal amounts of men and women abused, bullied, overlooked and treated badly in the working environment.  Is it the case that people are just sometimes unkind?  It is our instinct as humans to preserve ourselves and survive?  In doing so, some people seem to find it necessary to put others down.  This is not exclusive to men, it is human and it is a side of human nature that we don’t need anymore.  People will be underpaid and overworked, irrespective of their gender, let’s join together to fight for a fair world.

Through technology we have made our big world smaller, we are closer together than ever before.  Only yesterday my children were using Google Earth to look at Australia; they could see real people on street view, this is something that would not have been possible a few years ago.  So why are we bringing ourselves closer together if all we want to do is judge and divide?  Every second of the day someone is discriminated against because of their race, religion, colour, gender, sexuality, social status, fashion choices, music choices, food choices, the list of reasons goes on.  For some reason we seem to have brought ourselves closer together, but now seem to be overwhelmed by the diversity of this world.  Our individual countries are now made up of people who are all different; I fear for the divisions we are creating in our endless search for equality.  Life is hard enough, we need to work together. Let us teach our children about respect, empathy, consideration for others, ambition, kindness, acceptance and most of all to be who they are and not who they think the world wants them to be.  We are not defined by what we are, but by who we.

8 Years Old – How Did We Get Here?

DD1 turned 8 last week and despite what the title might suggest, I am not going to talk about her path to 8 and how I can’t believe she is here already.  Instead I am going to talk about how this growing up thing happens so fast, it is easy for time to get away with you and vital things might get missed.  The last 8 years have been a mad rush of 2 children, 2 house moves, some sad family things, schools, new schools and more new schools, new businesses, training, new jobs, a bit more training, and then 8 happened.

I have had a bit of time to reflect recently, as I took a break from trying to find who I should be in this mad world; I took a look at where me and the girls are now.  A realisation is dawning that I might have forgotten, sub consciously possibly, to develop their independence.  Maybe I was too busy, maybe I was too hooked up on being indispensable.  Whatever the reason, here we are with 2 very reliant young people.  I now need to retrain old habits and get them ready for the world ahead of them.  I was brought up to be independent and capable, so why am I smothering my 2 with mother love?  I realise they don’t have to need me, it would just be good if they wanted me.  So here is my Top 10 list of things I should have done sooner:

  1. Get them to make their beds – I don’t mean putting on the sheets, duvet cover etc. I just mean get up and sort out the duvet and toys.  Simple stuff, but neither of mine do it.
  2. Tidy up plates and dishes – I find plates and left-over food wrappers pretty much everywhere. I am not as strict as I could be about eating at the table, so bowls are all over the place.  We have a new agreement that they bring them into the kitchen, so far, this happens maybe 1 out of 10 times, with a little nagging.
  3. This brings me onto dishwashers and washing up. I still think myself lucky to have a dishwasher, I spent many a year with hands in a washing up bowl.  I believe they need to learn both, but lets start with opening the dishwasher and plopping a plate or two inside… baby steps.
  4. Brushing teeth – now I am happy to say that due to a terrible fear of making them gag, I have pushed them into brushing their own teeth quite early. So now we have a good mix of them and us teeth cleaning, but they would much rather sit back and let Dad do the work.  Apparently, they need to be able to do joined up writing to be good at teeth brushing.  No harm doing a few practice runs before then though.
  5. Picking up clothes, not just discarding where they fall – currently there is a trail of clothing at bath time and in the mornings. The onesie frequently ends up strewn across the hall, whilst the littlest’s pyjamas are often found in our bed.  She loves the big bed for her dressing area.  They have finally learned to put pants in the wash basket and the occasional sock, but that’s as far as it goes.  Everything else is collected and sorted by parents.  So, its time to stand back and direct them on where to put things, then let them learn.
  6. Clothes hanging and putting away. How hard is it to put clothes on hangers?  They can now both reach their hanging rails, so why am I constantly doing the hanging up?  Time to learn girls.
  7. Socks are always a problem when you have two girls, only 18 months apart; they all look the same. So, I have introduced the sock ID game; they love this and can then sort and put away their own socks.  I don’t always have the time so do this when they are up and about, so I need to remember to leave it until they can do it.  I aim to get to the point where they can help sort all the washing, not just their socks, and put their own things away; it’s slow process and they could be 18 by the time it happens!
  8. Getting their own drinks and snacks – we are currently struggling with diet and healthy food. I need to get them both to a stage where they can come in from school and grab a healthy snack independently, so that they can recognise what is good to eat and what should be more of an occasional option.  They are both very slim builds and don’t need to worry about weight, but I recognise that they both over consume sugar; I did this to them though, so I have to resolve it.  My husband talks about the full sweet bowl at home when he was a kid, and how he learned to just take from it occasionally, he never felt the need gorge on the readily available sweets and chocolate.  I decided to give this a go and found it works.  The sweets are always there, but they never help themselves and totally understand there is a limit to what they should eat, so if I say they can have something from the bowl, they always ask how much.  Yay …. One success.  Now let’s get DD1 to eat a grape!
  9. Tidying up – this is a totally personal thing. Everyone has a different level of tidiness and my 2 are a perfect example of this; not unlike their parents.  I am happy with organised chaos and will not give up too much time for the cleaning, whereas my husband is a lover of order, tidiness and neatness.  I should add that he is not overly keen on achieving these goals himself, unless it’s in the cars.  DD1 loves mess, has no desire to tidy and freely admits that she likes her messy bedroom, whereas DD2 likes things in their place, neatness and order.  However, here is an example of this morning’s game, long since abandoned:

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What you don’t see is the board flung over to the other side of the room, most of the floor space is covered by this one game.  Normally, the Sylvanians are brought into the mix, but today we have been crafting, so the kitchen is a bomb site.

  1. Getting involved in the cooking – I enjoy cooking, but rarely find the time to cook from scratch, so it is hard to get them to join in, but even things like putting on their own pizza toppings is better than nothing. We made a lasagne once, but that took hours, so I might think of something less time-consuming next time.  They are ridiculously picky eaters, so I am hoping more involvement might broaden their tastes.  We made pizza today, well they put toppings on ready-made bases, but we had been a bit busy making icing unicorns, (I didn’t let them eat TOO much icing) so we didn’t have a lot of time for cooking after that. I did make the pizza sauce, but got my timings wrong and didn’t have enough time to finish it so opened a jar instead!

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To get mine to where they should be, I now need to nag and really resist the temptation to just do it myself.  I realise that this is only my opinion, but if I don’t teach them this stuff, then who will?  I always struggled with delegation in my jobs and that has carried over to parenting.  Sometimes I was in rush, sometimes too frustrated to wait, and other times I wanted them to stay little and just be their Mum.  But they are growing up and need to learn the basics before I send them off on their way; not too soon though.

Diary of An Elective C-Section – Too Posh To Push Or Just Trying to be a Mum

For many reasons that could fill a book, I didn’t get chance to have children until I was 40.  We were having problems conceiving and due to my age (late 30s at this point), we were sent for a fertility consultation.  Turns out there were a few issues; don’t need to go into the full details, but one of them was that I had a sizeable fibroid.  Now this could have been age related, but I had been having problems since my early 30s, so I’m not sure age was a huge factor.  We were sent for the tests needed to go forward for IVF.  There was a hint that I would not be suitable for IVF, but nothing definite.  The only comment was that the position of the fibroid would ‘probably’ make a C-section necessary.  The day of the IVF appointment was looming and we had chilled out about the trying part, having decided we were just going to wait and see what the appointment brought.  But, I fell pregnant weeks before the appointment naturally, so we cancelled the appointment and off we went on our pregnancy journey.

Sitting up a few hours after DD2 was born – cute baby pic.

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The scans began and it was apparent that the fibroid was growing; in simple terms, it blocked the exit route.  Scan after scan came and the mini monster grew to 21cm.  I’m fairly certain the girls thought they had a twin in there, as it was there for both of my pregnancies and probably still in there now.  Talk grew more serious about a natural birth process not being possible.  At this point I was still living my child free existence and didn’t really have a care either way.  I just wanted this baby, whatever it took, come hell or high water, to be out and healthy.  The 2nd pregnancy was tougher though as by then I was in mummy world, where everyone swapped birth stories.  I could see the look of pity when I said that I hadn’t experienced labour.  They would politely listen to my story, but then go back to the ‘real’ birth stories.  There were the occasions where I could tell that they felt my birth had been the easy option and that I couldn’t possibly understand what they had gone through.  But maybe that was my mummy guilt kicking in, as I too believed I should have been able to have a natural birth.  Because that’s exactly it; natural, the most natural thing in the world, isn’t it?

Very pregnant and booked in for C-section no. 2, 2 weeks later

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Practical plans were made; I was given a date for my C-section at around week 32, to be done at 39 weeks.  I had a pre-op appointment a week before the main event, where they talked through all the procedure details, it was sympathetically done and put me at ease.  I made all the necessary arrangements for the hospital trip.  I had a spinal block planned and beyond that didn’t really have a plan.  I was hoping that the whole mother thing kicked in at the same time as the baby popped out.  I went to antenatal classes with the other couples, not the NHS ones, as they were not offered to me, but we were welcomed at the private ones; they added in a few extra bits about C-sections for my benefit.  I still have some amazing friends 8 years on, so it was well worth going.

The day came and we drove, as calmly as possible, to the hospital and signed me in.  Another scan was carried out, meds checked, (I had really bad acid reflux, so it was just anti acid medication, but I needed something extra to the norm) and just under 2 hours later, off I walked into the theatre.  For the 1st C-section, I don’t think Dad was allowed in for the spinal block, but he did come along for the 2nd (sadly, he had to leave as he felt a little wobbly at the sight of the needle, but so did one of the nurses, so he was not alone!)  A catheter was inserted, but by this time I could feel nothing. Then I was wheeled into the bit where the action takes place.

I took in my birth CD, which was played loud enough for me to hear.  Dad came in with me into the theatre part and stood at the top end.  (Should I say that he was invited down to the bottom end, post birth?  I will never for the life of me understand why he went, he has most definitely seen parts of me I really didn’t want him to see.  He said he just went along with it; swept up in the moment, but as he almost fainted at the sight of a needle, I can never understand him being able to see the fibroid monster up close and personal, and not pass out.  Really not convinced this is the norm, or should have actually happened).

First hold of DD2- still in theatre

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The main advice I followed was not to look at the lights as there was the possibility of seeing what was going on in the reflection, I didn’t look, so I can’t confirm this either way.  The screen worked well, but did make me feel a bit out of the action for the moments of the post birth checks.  People had described tugging and discomfort, but I barely felt a thing on either occasion.  They were both shown to me above the screen the minute they arrived into the world. Checks and cord cutting were swiftly done, I could hear crying, so felt immense relief and an over whelming mix of emotions.  Both times, they were quickly handed to me and with the help of the anaesthetist, (who becomes your new BFF during the procedure, staying with you every step of the way) I was able to support her on my chest.

I am not going to go into the emotions of it all, as they are personal and everyone will feel differently.  I don’t want people to read this and then wonder why they didn’t feel the same.  Feel what you feel, embrace it, deal with it, do whatever you need to do to get through it.  Elective / emergency C-sections / water births / natural births – call it whatever you want, it is about having a baby; there are so many feelings and emotional and they are all yours.

All the necessary clean up, stitch up, etc. happened over what seemed like quite a long time, but was actually not long at all.  Then I was wheeled with baby in arms to the recovery room.  It would be a lie to say that morphine and other pain relief was not given; this is something I wish did not have to go into my baby’s body through my milk, but it was a necessary evil and caused no issues that I am aware of.  First time, the pain was managed well, but I needed an extra boost the 2nd time, so I had some liquid morphine to top things up.  I was in the recovery room, with baby at all times, for around an hour I would guess, then wheeled to the post op ward.  Now post op ward is an area of idyllic calm compared to the other labour wards, so it was quite a chilled-out time.  The nurses helped me with different positions to start feeding her in my relatively static state.  Moving was not the easiest thing to do and I was grateful for the bed controls.  Feeding is tricky after a C-section, but let’s face it feeding can be tricky anyway; I can talk more about that another time.  Despite the possible shock to the body by this unexpected arrival, milk came in exactly as expected.

The pre-event advice I had been given had been a little on the negative side; I had been warned about getting up for the first time after the op, and how painful it was.  I then built it up so much in my mind that there was no way it could be that bad.  I wish I had done it sooner as I laid in the bed all day, calling for help when I needed to move baby.  Eventually I went for it around 9 pm, so almost 12 hours since the op.  I can honestly say that it was not that bad; the pain killers worked well.  Obviously, it was uncomfortable, but so is a natural birth; it was OK and I could shuffle around quite easily, catheter bag in hand.  With DD2, I moved much sooner and got up and down to her on my own.  In fact, with her, she didn’t really leave my side, as the hospital allowed me to co-sleep 2nd time around.  Not the 1st time though, so she screamed every time she was placed back in the cot.  For around 30 minutes the nurses took her to give me some rest, I soon called for her to be brought back though.  But I would get told to put baby back in the cot if they found me co-sleeping.  Oh, to be this wise back then, I don’t think I would be being told off in the same way now.

After a fairly OK night, I was moved to the general labour ward, which is chaotic to say the least.  I had a night in there, but with DD2, I bought some insurance and got a private side room for the 2nd night, worth every penny!

One of the main downsides to the C-sections was the extended stay in hospital; by the end of day 3, I was desperate to leave.  I started to get quite anxious about what was ahead of me, grumpy and very emotional, but as soon as I walked out the doors, life kicked in and I went back to feeling like me, or at least like the new me.  The 2nd time, as a bit of a pro, I was released mid-morning, but the 1st time, I didn’t get out of hospital until 6 pm on the day 3.  I left armed with pain killers and a list of things not to do, most of which are fairly impossible to avoid with a baby, and completely impossible to avoid with a toddler and a baby.  I am lucky that I had a husband on paternity leave by my side for both births, so he was there to carry the girls out in their car seats.  Carrying baby in a car seat is a definite no no post C-section, but don’t worry, it really is not long before it is possible.  Driving is recommended as a 6 week wait, I won’t tell you anything else as it would not be safe to do so. Not driving was a bit hellish as I lived in a village, but I got through it.

Life at home post C-section is probably very similar to life at home post a natural birth; there is pain and discomfort with both, plus a feeling of not knowing what to do with this tiny little human.  But you muddle through, until it becomes 2nd nature and you are off on the road of parenting.  It is difficult to get up and down, plus there is a need to restrict lifting and walking around with baby, but that doesn’t mean not holding baby, it just means being sensible.  I took the pain killers and the anti-clotting injection as prescribed, but soon found that I could manage with just paracetamol.  Everyone handles pain differently and will have different levels of pain, but take comfort from a woman who has done it twice; it really wasn’t that bad.  The scar is so low down and small that is barely visible; it was tender for a while, but went on to heal very quickly.  There is talk of a fold over C-section belly; I kind of had that before due to weight gain on steroids (another story), so I have plenty of folds going on anyway.  It is a little longer before you can get back to the exercising after a C-section than with a natural birth, but who am I kidding if I try to give advice on that part?  Exercise is not my friend!

Some will say that I have not given birth, they are right in that I didn’t experience labour, I have no idea what a contraction feels like.  But I held my babies as soon as they came into this world, I was there for all of it and even if I hadn’t been awake, they would still have been ‘birthed’.  Others might say that I should not have risked my babies lives by getting pregnant knowing that natural birth was not an option, maybe it was selfish, but they are here, happy, healthy and amazing.  I am pretty certain it would not be possible to prove any ill effects from the C-section, but I guess equally I can’t prove there weren’t any ill effects either.  But to me they seem completely unaffected by how they were born and after the initial baby and toddler years, no one actually cared how they got here, except me, I just cared that they got here.