Like millions of women before me, I somehow managed to create a delectable little human in my belly, and after nine months of careful cooking, she sprang rather painfully into my life.
I’ve always been fascinated by the miracle of a baby being conceived. The tiny heart taking its first ever beat, the formation of cells which we have very little control over. It just happens within us, and all we can do is marvel at the unlikelihood of it all.
With something so precious and delicate unfolding in my stomach, I was slightly nervous about how well equipped I was for motherhood. Paige was the product of a whirlwind romance, adored from the moment we knew she was making her way into the world. She was the best surprise I’ve ever had.
I took my pregnancy one step at a time (the hormones had an amazing calming effect on my mind, which I’m glad to say has never fully left me. Or perhaps my heart has never relinquished the joy my baby has brought me). I cried as I wrote that. Anyone else cry because you literally cannot cope with the love you feel for your babies? I know I’m not alone, it’s a beautiful thing.
As I was saying before I got totes emosh, I decided to start by doing the best I could to grow a healthy human.
This part of ‘parenting’ is definitely the easy bit by way of being ‘textbook’ or following the rules. You pretty much get told the do’s and dont’s, they apply to everyone and thou shalt not deviate. So I took my Pregnacare, didn’t drink alcohol, avoided hot baths, reduced my intake of shark and rested when I needed to.
I’ll talk more about my pregnancy and birth in another blog, and give you the lowdown on how my Scoliosis became a challenge that I had to fight to overcome. And overcome it I did, because on September 11th 2015 at 1.18pm my daughter Paige came naturally and perfectly into the world. And this is where things started to get complicated.
My daughter is an ‘orchid’ so I’m told, which means she is very sensitive. I spent the first six months of her life protecting her little ears from dogs barking, people sneezing and phones ringing, so ferocious were the meltdowns that would ensue. When she showed signs of wanting to walk, I considered putting lead weights in her nappy. It was a trying time. ‘Oops! All fall down!’, cue fifteen minutes of silent, open-mouthed, no inhalation type crying.
So, I devised a cunning plan to avoid having to watch her suffer, which was to follow her everywhere and not let her fall. I have been known to abruptly leave a conversation, dive across the table and hurl myself into a ball pit at the merest hint of a wobble. She is a confident walker now, so I have been able to stop taking the Valium. But to this day, I still don’t let her fall if I can help it. I just can’t do it captain!
The next thing I don’t do is heed the boy scout mantra ‘always be prepared’. I am not the mum whose nappy bag you can merrily delve into, helping yourself to snacks and wipes, safe in the knowledge that there’ll be plenty more where that came from. If you take Paige’s snack, she will starve. I’m afraid I did not anticipate the needs of your child, I would have thought you’d have that covered.
Another thing I don’t do is track what some mums feel is crucial information about my daughter. I am unable to tell you how much she weighs, how many teeth she has, where that bruise came from and when she last poohed. It doesn’t mean I love her any less than someone who can tell you the exact timing of their babies last fart, it just isn’t top of my list of priorities.
Now, this is going to sound bad, but I’m putting it out there. I don’t read to her.
I tried, I really did! The little blighter has no interest in whether or not it’s her kitten. She is only content if she is allowed to turn the pages at lightening speed, ripping flaps off of pop up books, and telling me every animal is a duck. So instead of reading the book, we point out the animals, and I try to teach her their names and the sound they make. Until she invariably wriggles from my grasp to go and feed one of her dollies.
The final item on todays list of things I don’t do, is give her structured TV exposure. Apparently, some mums have a schedule for television watching, and their babies have a specific amount of viewing time, usually of a programme designed to make their brains bigger. Paige and I are out all the time visiting friends and having adventures, we are very rarely at home, but when we are I like to use the TV as bribery.
She calls Baby TV ‘BeeTee’ and often this is the only way I can get her to sit and take her asthma pumps/have her nappy changed/put her coat on/eat her bloody dinner. We don’t limit it to BeeTee though, oh no, she also enjoys the music on Countdown, gets excited by the audience on the Ellen show, and looks at me in a very unsettled way when I pop and lock to the music channels. Is it wrong? Who knows. But it’s how we roll.
In the interest of giving an even perspective, I’d like to leave you with something I actually do! Something I’ve always done which has never steered me wrong.
I listen to her.
She told me when she was just a few days old that she loved to hear me sing. It would settle her and send her into a trance long enough for me to do my hair and make up from start to finish. She told me after she had been ill and would only eat satsumas that she didn’t like them anymore. She told me she loves cats, so we visit our friends with animals as often as we can. She told me she wants her feet out on car journeys so she can tickle her toes with her muzzy.
She told me I am doing a good job, even though I went my own way and make it up as I go along. And for all the things I don’t do, I know that what I do is give her everything I know how to, in a constant effort to make sure that she feels my love.