To the single parent

My daughter has been sick for the last few days, for what feels like the hundredth time in her short life (which makes me feel like I am failing as a mother, but thats a story for another blog haha). In the meantime she has also been cutting not one, but TWO molars.

In between all of this, my husband was here, and he helped so so much since I also started to get sick and cant take anything because I am pregnant. I find it so difficult to be a good mother when I am not in a good place myself, I manage to push it aside and try to just be there for her, but she still feels that I am not myself, and it is at that moment where I thank God that I have a husband who helps and can take over while I rest.

That being said, I know not all parents have a partner that helps, or have have lost a partner or have broken up with a partner. I have no idea how you do it, I know if you are a parent you have no choice to keep going and you just somehow find that strength somewhere to be the best parent you can possibly be. But that still does not make it easy or any less lonely.

Although I don’t know how it feels, I was raised by a single parent and saw the toll it took, you have so much less time for yourself, or well, basically anything! A sick or teething baby takes up ALL your time, whether you are a stay at home parent, or not, the time you have with them is difficult and exhausting. There is no time to unwind after a tough day at work, or to have a glass of wine with supper because you have to tend to a crying baby and get to bed as soon as possible because you have to get up early again the next day, and do it all over again.

I have so much respect for these parents , ones that still give their children the best they can, in-spite of their need for a personal life, well done !! 💪🏻

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Parenting – What is happening ?

I have been asking myself this question multiple times a day for the last year (my baby is a year haha), and I know I am not alone on this one. In one of my previous posts I shared with you guys about my baby girl’s burns, and we have finally come to to the end, at the doc today they shared the good news that her bandages can come off in three days (Thank You Jesus). Then we get hit with an ear infection. At that moment every mom just feels defeated, even just for a minute, here we are, we spent 4 weeks in bandages and screaming and a very unhappy little girl, and its all about to change, then the universe throws you a “nope just kidding” move and its all out the window.

Worse part is that I have always kind off thought that she has a good immune system, yet, despite all my efforts (and I mean it all) she has been on antibiotics 4 times in one year already (her first year of life might I add). Life with a baby is so unpredictable, the one day they eat so well and you feel like super mom and the next she spits out the exact same piece of corn she so loved yesterday.

There are ten thousand books out there on how to do all of this, and most of it wont apply to your baby. Thats the saddest part of all of this, so much sound advice out there, but your baby hates it all for some reason. I see it all as more of a “suggestion” than rules to live by. Each person thinks that they have it all figured out at some point, the reality is that it all changes so quickly. My baby still does not sleep through, and we have tried it ALL. She eats (well sometimes) she is happy during the day and has enough naps for the right amount of time , she plays enough. “Technically” there is nothing wrong, and no reason why she is not sleeping through the night yet.

Only to come to the conclusion that maybe she just does not like to sleep , ever though of that ?! Haha. Maybe she just has FOMO ? Who knows, all I know is that we have let it all go, we are just happy that she is healthy and smiling and enjoying life – which is all that matters !

At the end of the day, instead of pressuring both you and baby to fit into this “ideal world”, throw that book away, seriously ! Parenting is so hard already, you do not need some book (or person) telling you that everything you are doing is wrong . That book has no motherly instinct and definitely does not know you baby or your family.

I am not saying don’t ask for help, and there are legitimate experts out there that has the best advice, I am just saying that being a parent should be fun in-between all the stress and the hormones, just because you don’t live up to some book does not mean you are not doing it right.

You just be the best you ! The best mom you can be ! Because it is enough ❤️

Learning how to have fun with motherhood

When I think back on the first few months after my baby girl was born , I think what a waste ! What a waste all that stressing was for and the anxiety, instead of just enjoying every minute of it. It took me so long to adjust to being a mother that I missed out on half the journey. I think it is all part of being a first time mom, I don’t think there is a woman on earth that did not feel overwhelmed the first time she brought her little one home.

As the months went by, I slowly learned to not be so hard on myself (and my poor husband) and to just breathe through the difficult times. And most importantly; I learned how to have fun whilst doing it.

I always felt so overwhelmed that I thought there was no time in the day to do something that I enjoy, I soon realized that this was just an excuse. The moment I made an effort, things started to change for me, I now write while I sit on the floor and play with her (master multitasker right!?), its not easy, and a post takes me twice as long, but I am doing it.

We need to realize the importance of doing something different, something other than being a wife/partner and a mother, we need to do something that makes us feel like an individual again, it just gives you the little break that you need to carry on with what the day holds.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, we too often feel like asking for help means that you are not coping with being a mother and that you have failed, that is just not true, and don’t let anyone make you feel like that. Older people always tend to tell me “I had no help whatsoever and raised four kids”- well, well done , but that simply does not mean anything to me, I promise you that their recollection of something that happened 30 years ago is a bit embellished, and that does not mean that you now have to do the same or compare.

Take that break, have fun, have fun with your baby, each little giggle is worth all the dishes in the world, it can wait, all of it can, because at the end of the day, life is too short, so don’t live your life trying to live up to an ideal that is probably fabricated in the first place.

Sleeping Consultant – Is it worth is ?

A baby’s sleep is the biggest struggle for most new moms, and even second time moms all over the world, to me personally, it was the biggest struggle, the breastfeeding I could handle, the crying I could handle, but the lack of sleep was just too much to bare, it was affecting every aspect of my life; my job, my marriage and my overall well being and I am a strong believer that you cannot be the best mother you can be if you are unhappy.

Asking for help often makes new mothers feel like a failure, it certainly did for me, it felt like I failed as a mother because I was reading and hearing about all these mothers whose babies sleep through the night at the age of 2-3 months old, and immediately I felt like I wasn’t a good mother, I could not even get my baby to have a solid nap once a day.

I finally realized that this is just not true, just like we as grownups are all individuals and all have our own likes and dislikes, so babies do as well, each baby is unique and we should not compare our mothering to others (which is a very difficult thing to ask of any mother as it is so easy to start feeling insecure and second guess ourselves).

That is why my husband and I decided to get a sleeping consultant, we were getting up at an average of six times per night to give our baby girl her pacifier so that she would go back to sleep , she refused to nap for longer that 30 minutes during the day (she was a champion cat napper) , and she was just a difficult baby overall , once again; because of the lack of sleep.

We tried everything you can think of, and although the internet is an amazing thing, it gives broad advice, the advice you get is not tailored to your baby or your specific situation, and that can get confusing, I know that some moms have had great success with this, but for us, this just did not do the trick , my husband and I even started fighting because we each had our own idea about what would work, each confident it their own option. This created so much friction in our marriage, so getting a third party to give advice was the best thing we could have done, not only for our baby, but for our marriage.

We were going insane! My days and nights all seemed to blend together, with no clear distinction, napping while she slept was not an option as it was only half an hour and I had work to do, which I know a lot of moms would agree with , I read the other day “Sleep while the baby sleeps, so that means; do laundry while the baby does laundry?” – The whole idea behind sleeping when the baby sleeps basically only works for the first few weeks after birth, no one expects you to do any household chores or cook or clean, but this level of sympathy quickly disappears as your baby gets a little older.

So I was in desperate need of some professional advice, hence; the sleeping consultant.

A sleeping consultant evaluates all aspects of your lives, and your baby’s, they analyse all information given to them and then they work out a sleep schedule and provide you with the needed information on how to execute this plan. Our consultant did four follow ups and I had to log all activities and sleeping during the day so that we can see if anything improves as we progress, she was very hands on and we talked every day , I was very impressed by the level of commitment on her behalf and she motivated me every step of the way, even the days I felt like giving up.

The first four days were intense, the reason for this is that we changed our baby’s routine, which every mother knows is chaos to say the least, and difficult for everyone to adjust to. Since day two she slept so well during the night and only had one bottle and then slept again, our lives changed, and we got the needed sleep.

But then daybreak came, and chaos with it!

My baby girl screamed every time I put her in her bed for a nap , no matter how tired she was, she just would have none of it, we had to resort to an “emergency nap” ( which is getting the baby to sleep no matter what it takes, there comes a time when getting your baby to sleep is more important then HOW they fall asleep) and then after a few days, this didn’t even work for us anymore, she knew when we put her in her pram it meant she must sleep , and as you can imagine, this now warranted for an even bigger screaming match  than placing her in her bed.

I honesty almost gave up, and the consultant just reassured me that consistency is key and that she would eventually realize that sleeping is not that bad. She was right, day five, everything started to change, she would sleep when she needed to and wake up much later than half an hour.

It took us about 2 weeks to establish a sleep routine and to get into the groove of things, both us and her, her crying (and mine) came to an end and we have our lives back! I would recommend getting a sleep consultant for any mother having issues with their baby’s sleep.

That being said; there were some days in these two weeks that I could see my baby was struggling and was just not having a good day, whether it be teething or her just not feeling herself, the intense routine went out the window, I honestly believe that we know our babies best, and we know when they need what, I followed the sleep plan for the most part, but I still believe that babies are individuals and also have “off days” just like we do , and we cannot expect every day to go according to plan and the way we would like it, babies are hard work , and some days are hard being a mother, and no consultant in the world is going to make your life perfect.

There is nothing like a mother’s love!

Dad Instincts

The other day my husband and I were having a tiff over whether our baby girl is in fact teething or just being fussy for no reason; I believed that she is teething, and my husband believed that she is just having an off day and that I don’t need to always assume the worst. Needless to say; this turned into a huge argument, I explained to him that I have “motherly instinct” and that he needs to learn to trust that, he replied by telling me; he also has instincts as a dad – which brings us here.

I have since come to realize that I have this ugly side to me, one that feels I need to be the superior parent, that I somehow need to be the one my baby needs, and that only I can console her when she is upset or not feeling well. The fact of the matter is; that although this is mostly true, it is not true every time.

There has countless times where my baby is upset and I can’t console her, her dad takes her, and she calms down, there could be a million reasons for this; she feeds of off me , so that day I might be a bit more emotional, upset or stressed out, and she feels this too, it affects her world just as much as it does mine, if not more. Her dad on the other hand; takes things in stride, he is generally more laid back, relaxed and rarely gets stressed out (we balance each other out quite well).

At first, this made me feel quite irrelevant, it hurt my feelings that my baby girl was not comforted by me, and that she needed her father instead.

As a new mom, I constantly put pressure on myself to do things “right”, I was adamant that I will be the best mother and I would research anything before making a decision about my baby girl’s development and wellbeing, whether it be her feeding, her sleeping, her play time, her stimulation – EVERYTHING.

This was starting to drive me insane, I was always tired, no matter how much sleep I got at night, I was constantly stressing about her at night for no real reason, constantly doubting my own abilities as a mom. It was taking all the enjoyment out of being a mom in the first place, it made me miss the little moments that I was supposed to be enjoying with my family.

Overcoming my insecurities

Studies have found that a woman only matures at the age of 25 – mostly emotionally, according to this; you only really know what you want to do in life and can face the challenges life throws at you with maturity and a clear head. Well, I don’t know about you, but I am 27 and still don’t feel sure about myself and my future most of the time, and some days I really don’t feel all that mature either.

Overcoming this silly little insecurity took quite some time, I had to really work hard at it, and change my perception of the situation, my husband being so involved is a GOOD thing, him wanting to help and give opinions when she cried or was being cranky; was him being a good father and a good husband, it did not mean that he thought he knew better than me or that he is questioning my abilities as a mother. He simply wants to play a big role in her upbringing, and although he respects my opinion and realizes that I am the one that looks after her the whole day, sometimes, a fresh new opinion or suggestion from the outside is just what a situation calls for.

Looking after your child during the day, every day, can become intense (especially those days that they refuse to sleep and just basically refuse to do anything you want them to), you tend to get into your head too much and it becomes very difficult to take a break and gather your thoughts, or just to even have a cup of tea and plan your day.

Your frustrated, tired, and then dad walks in and says – “maybe you should try and put her in her pram instead” – Immediately you are enraged at the thought, because you have been trying to get her to sleep the whole day, and yet you did not think of that (you can’t tell him that though because you feel stupid for not doing it in the first place)

The Change

I realized that my husband (just like me) also finds joy in parenting, and the fact that our baby girl is comforted by him, yes, he might not have the same bond with her as I do, and yes, he is not always right about what is wrong with her, but neither am I for that matter. Making him feel like he is wrong all the time, also hurts his feelings, so now; even if I know she does not have a fever; if he suggests it, I take her temperature just to be sure, and this level of respect has changed our marriage for the better, he also now feels like I value his opinion and I don’t just brush it off.

This had a ripple effect, he is now more confident in looking after her if I am not there, because he is more confident in his fathering skills and his “fatherly instincts” so to speak, he does not feel the need to call me every ten minutes when she cries, he now knows what to do with her.

We as mothers are quick to dismiss things like “fatherly instincts” because we don’t believe that it could really be a thing, although I don’t think it is more important than “motherly instincts”; fathers all over the world are moving away from the historic “mother does all” way of life and becoming more and more involved in parenting.

I have even seen my husband googling “sleep regression” and “teething symptoms” a few times.

Now that I look at things a little differently; these things warm my heart, and I am so lucky to have a husband that is such a good father to our precious baby girl, and he deserves all the credit in the world for his “fatherly instincts”.

The “mom itch”

Ever notice how once you start doing something with your baby , and you have no free hands, you start itching somewhere ? The mom itch!

As if motherhood is not hard enough already right? Now you find yourself trying to hold a bottle with your chin while trying to scratch your nose with your way too short arm! In reality it is called “phantom itching” but I truly think its the mom itch, it always happens when I am busy with my baby girl, and ALWAYS when I cant scratch !

The moment I stop with what I am doing, the itch goes away! It is so frustrating, and no way to stop it from happening again. This is one of those phenomenas that makes no sense, just like motherly instinct and how you can function on 2 hours of sleep. Yet, all of the above is very real.

This made me think of all the things we as moms go through that no one sees; the emotional turmoil when your baby is crying, hurting or just unhappy, the hurt when your partner goes straight to bed instead of spending some time alone with you, the tiredness that comes with it all. It can be so difficult some days that it feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, yet, the next day; we do it all over again.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to keep quiet because I feel like my husband and friends don’t really understand how I feel or what I am going through, and sometimes I just do not know how to put my feelings into words, keeping my feelings to myself just less effort in the long run.

Its like an itch you cant scratch, knowing that if you talk about it; it will only turn into a fight and you will still feel alone at the end of it. Being a mother comes with so many internal struggles that we often don’t talk about to others.

Sometimes , just sometimes, it is okay to put yourself first, to take a moment and give your baby to someone for a few hours and just let it all out, have a good cry, go for a walk , get some retail therapy, read a few pages of that book you haven’t touched, just take a moment.

I am horrible at this, when I leave my baby with someone, I always feel like I have to hurry back, like that person is doing me a favor and therefore I must not push it because maybe they wont do it again then.

In reality though, most people that offer to babysit; understand that moms need a break, and wont even mind if you take that extra half an hour to go for a pedicure instead of rushing back home. For me; this is an ongoing process, I am learning everyday that it is okay to take a minute, some days I feel more anxious than others , but I am getting there.

Take a break, it is so rewarding and just so necessary for a healthier, happier you!

Facts about a C-Section and a newborn I never knew as First time mom

I might have been a bit naive; after all; I do have a “wing it” kind of attitude towards life, so if you are calculated and plan everything out, then this post will be of no use to you, because you will know all these things beforehand, for me however, so many things about my procedure and newborn caught me by surprise, I was so not prepared for this.

C-Section

  • It is quite uncomfortable to be awake and start naked in front of the doctors and nurses in the theater – I don’t know about you , but somehow, being awake for a surgery was scary enough for me, I did not even think of all the little things that would be so intense, for me, once the epidural was placed and they lay me down on the operating table and took my hospital gown off, I felt like I could just die right there! I have never felt so self-conscious and vulnerable in my entire life, it was horrible (I know doctors see it every day, but still, it was so intense for me).
  • Shaking – I did not know that once that epidural is placed that I would shiver for basically the duration of the whole procedure, and I mean, properly, at one point it was so bad that I could barely speak, the only way to describe it; when you are cold, and you start shivering uncontrollably? For me this was what it felt like, just more intense and for longer. I also still had random “shiver attacks” at night for a few weeks afterwards.
  • Back Pain – I did not know that I would have intense back pain for several weeks after the surgery (due to the epidural) this did go away quickly though.
  • Looking after a newborn and recovering from a surgery is no joke – Although I expected as much; I did not realize just how hard it would be; even though you are no longer pregnant, you still cant bend down, or walk without everything hurting, in fact, new areas hurt now But at least you can take some pain medication now.
  • The pain – To be honest; I expected worse pain from it all, but to me, the only time it was ever unbearable was at 1 am the first night, where I thought I was dying, the rest I could handle.
  • Recovery – Recovery for me was much longer than I anticipated, after the first three days, I felt much better and walking around became easier, but my stomach was still very tender to touch and getting dressed was no easy task, my whole body felt stiff for weeks on end.

Newborn

  • Newborn need to lay on their side – Who knew! In the hospital I placed my baby on her back and the nurse told me to place her on her side to prevent choking on milk or spit up, this caught me by surprise because I did not even think about it that way, but now it makes total sense.
  • Newborns need to have 10 wet nappies a day – This is to ensure that they are eating enough and getting enough nutrients from the milk, change your baby’s nappy before every feed (this also ensures that they are more awake for the feed)
  • Not all babies like to be swaddled – Despite what the experts tell you; not all babies enjoy being swaddled, my baby hated it, she was swaddled for about the first 3 weeks and after that she would scream if we swaddled her and break free, she is 6 months old now and still hates a blanket over her.
  • “Babywearing” is not for everyone – A friend of mine suggested that I buy a sling for my baby as it allows you to get more done during the day; once again, my baby hated every second of it, I ended up with three different wraps just to be sure. Lesson – every baby is different!
  • Your baby does not like bath time or getting dressed – I never thought of it like this; but your baby hates bath time or dressing in their first few weeks of life, the reason for this is simple; they are not used to it, now (well my baby hates when I pull anything over her head), but she loves bath time.

These are but a few examples, but maybe it could help you be more prepared than I was, and not caught off guard, although parenthood will always surprise you in one way or another, maybe you can just be aware of the little things.

There is just never a dull moment when you are a new mom, embrace the chaos!