10 Signs You Love Parenting 

Disclaimer: please read 10 things you can’t stand about parenting’ if you’re not in a positive parenting place right now, like me most mornings. That fluffy focus-on-the-good parenting stuff needs balancing out a bit.

 

1. Spending ridiculous amounts of time just looking at your baby/child. You know their every detail to the extreme, and of course they are the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. You often feel smug when you look at people who aren’t your child’s parent (so pretty much everyone else except your partner) and gloat inwardly that they don’t get to look at your child every day. You regularly feel the urge to ferociously approach strangers crying “look at her face, she is beautiful!” because, they didn’t seem to be paying much attention.

2. Feeling that aching proud feeling in your chest when they’re so scared to swim in the swimming gala but they do it eventually. Even though they came last, they did it. All the other kids were probably doping anyway.

3. Watching your kids hug each other. It’s quite a skill to have made a little pack of humans whom you hope will confide in each other when they’re bigger and always have a friend who knows them so well. This morning I overheard my two eldest discussing how they liked ‘their baby [brother]’.

4. Wanting to bottle the smell of your baby’s head. I know it’s a cliché but if one of my kids is sat on my lap it’s quite likely that I’ll have my nose in their head (that sounds normal), which is fine until they notice and tell you to stop sniffing them.

5. Loving the power that the iPad or sweet foods has over other humans. I am God. You can make them tidy anything with the promise of an ice lolly.

6. When their favourite song goes from ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ to something over 20 seconds long and becomes ‘Paranoid Android’ by Radiohead, like my 6 year old daughter (which Daddy is very proud of).

7. Watching them learn to read, or write their own name. The months of choosing their name suddenly becomes a lot more serious. (May have set the bar quite high for our daughter Geneviève, poor kid.)

8. Sitting on the floor and having your baby crawl over to you and rest their head on your thigh. Loving that you’re what they want right now, not a brightly coloured, obnoxiously noisy toy in the corner.

9. Spending weekends watching them run around in the sun and play in trees, or even just giggle at cartoons. This is their childhood. Remembering what you remember from your childhood and realising that this is that, for them, right now. Wanting to make it brilliant.

10. Having made some freshly squeezed brand new people that are largely part of you, but are also separate beings and wanting them to be a bit like you, but also have a better life than you. You know they will probably make the world a tiny bit better.

 @shopgirlygm

10 Things You Can’t Stand About Parenting 

Disclaimer: read ’10 signs you love parenting’ for if you need to be reminded that you do love it really.
1. When someone misidentifies the gender of your baby. You may like to think you’re quite a liberal parent and want to buy your girl a red truck for her birthday, saying ‘fuck you’ to gender stereotypes, but it’s still a little infuriating when your dainty little girl dressed in a blue dress and flowery sunhat gets told she is a handsome young man.

2. Mornings when you feel your stomach acid start to bubble up due to the rage caused by the amount of times you have to tell your daughter to not just stand there in yesterday’s pants for a further 23 minutes, but actually make movements – any freaking movements at all – to get some additional kind of clothing on. And also, when you ask what on Earth they’ve been doing for the last half an hour they seem to have no recollection of their activities. Astonishing. Like it’s been erased from their memory. Which reminds me…

3. Sometimes, they remember everything. Apart from important stuff. But they do somehow remember that last week you promised them they could have packed lunch at the end of this week, and now it is Friday, 8:27am and you now have an obligation to rustle up a nutritious picnic for the clever little thing.

4. You want to be a fly-on-the-wall at school lunch time and have the power to poke other kids when they say something mean to yours. You hate the idea that your daughter is sad and you’re not there.

5. Dressing babies. Due to my disability I can’t do this myself but I’m usually the one trying to pin said baby down while others try to insert him into trousers. They should use this activity to torture prisoners – see how long they last with a baby (okay maybe just a doll) who, just when you’re getting leg #2 into place, they retract leg #1. Leg #2 then becomes leg #1 and the ordeal is repeated about ten times. It’s the same with sleeves and shoes. You all end up screaming and you put your son in a dress and be done with it.

6. They do not want you to sleep. Babies are arseholes during the night and that’s all I have to say on the situation.

7. When you’re supposed to cook something nutritious to fuel their growing bodies but you’ve just got home and it’s 6pm – fridge tapas will have to do. You boil up some pasta, add cheese and a bit of sandwich pickle, some sliced up cold sausage from the weekend BBQ, and throw in some frozen mixed veg to pretend it’s healthy. They don’t eat it, and instead have some questionable yoghurt from the back of the fridge for dinner. If they get the runs it’s their own fault.

8. Meltdowns which occur outside the home. Nothing screams “look how shit I am at parenting!” than when your child decides to lie down on the floor in the frozen section in Morrisons. You’re a mum in a wheelchair and the verbal attempts to get your child to stand up are not working. Then the Parent Samaritans rock up and offer help and you just want to scream “You can fuck off too. Leave me alone.” in their face. You’d quite like to just ignore your child and leave them to their tantrum as you might at home, but unfortunately it is frowned upon in the public arena.

9. Morning wake-up calls before 7am when you’re not getting up early to go on holiday. I love that my kids want to snuggle in bed next to me in the mornings but when they are 3 and 6 years old, it is 5.48am and within 3 minutes they are arguing about not having enough space or any covers, you regularly scream “it is MY bed, it’s not even 6 o’clock, bugger off”. You load YouTube on your phone and some sickly sweet video of some girls unwrapping Frozen-themed Kinder Eggs, and send them on their way. You’ll deal with the post-YouTube comedown later on.

10. After all the other trivial, albeit shitty stuff that happens day-to-day as a parent, you have the overwhelming sense of disappointment that you can’t give them everything you want to. You can’t promise the world will be nice to them always and you can’t promise nothing bad will happen, and that sucks.*

*Although you can help them to be strong, loving and open-minded people, and that might help with those things.

@shopgirlygm

Being Mum: Rehearsal In Progress

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It’s Mother’s Day in the UK today, and there’s lots I could talk about when it comes to being a mother.

I have three kids, ranging in age from 6 years to 7 months, with  3-year-old in the middle. When I was first pregnant with child #1, it was exillerating, exciting, scary, and new. Nothing had been experienced before except through observing other pregnant people around me, but nothing was to prepare me for what was really to come. Six and a bit years on, I’m still pretty much winging it at times, with the occasional moment of knowing what I’m doing.

With my eldest when she was a baby, I worried about everything – whether she had fed enough, whether she was putting on weight quickly as she was a tiny baby, whether I was doing the right thing by feeding her and putting her down, and letting her cry – because she’d fed and her nappy was fine so what else could she need at 2am apart from sleep? She surely had to understand as early as possible that cuddles and attention in the dark hours was not going to happen. Some people I spoke to agreed, and had similar sleep routines, and some had different opinions on how much attention a baby needs after feeding and changing had been sorted. I was pretty sure we were doing it right, although it was nightmarish at times and we were both shattered. But when we considered the alternative – co-sleeping or something similar and in the attachment aisle of the parenting shop. We got though the baby stage and came out the other end with a baby who slept quite reasonably by the middle of her second year of life and we had our nights back.

Then we had the sensible idea to bring another screaming human science project into our house. ‘We know what we’re doing….maybe’, we both thought at times, and we often heard people say something like ‘oh you must know what you’re doing if this is your second baby!’ Nor necessarily true but I could kind of see where they were coming from. With the second baby some things are very familiar, and some things come back quite easily like breastfeeding, which my second daughter took to like a baby to a boob, with no issues whatsoever as opposed to the first time around where I stressed more than anyone needs to, over getting her to latch on properly, being scared by hospital staff that she’d need ‘topping-up’ with formula in ber first few hours of life as she had not had many long feeds from me. Nowadays I know that that particular bit of advice was unnecessary and I needen’t have worried about her not feeding enough right from the word ‘go’. Of course babies need to feed, and to increase their blood sugar, but considering that their stomach at birth is literally the size of a small marble, there really was no need for me to cry over the fact that she hadn’t guzzled all 2oz of formula after a 5 minute feed from me, only for her to throw it all up everyhwere after. I probably would have too if I’d been made to drink about 5 x the volume of my stomach in one sitting. So with daughter 2.0 this part of parenting was a lot less stressful. Don’t get me wrong, the times they throw up an entire boob of milk before bed when they’re bigger, is definitely a pain in the neck, and there were many rimes when I’d worry that she had not eaten enough, and slept too much, but for the most part, a lot more successful.

With daughter #2, I was also a bit more easy going when it came to sleep. I’d still want her back in her own bed after most feeds because it is my bed and I am selfish – but in the very early days and for the odd night thereafter if she spent most of the night in our bed, co-sleeping as they call it, then that was that. She’s 3 now and has been in her own bed sleeping perfectly normally for at least 2 years, only stopping our bedtime feed at 2.5. I knew we had approached sleep better this time around, but I do have a lingering guilt that in fact with our eldest daughter, she was not sleeping at all badly – she was a baby and babies wake and need a cuddle. The problem really was that we had been conditioned to believe that from a few weeks old babies should be able to sleep solidly. Complete rubbish.

Now I’m on child 3, this time of the male variety and pretty much every situation is sprinkled with a generous layer of salt, rathet than a pinch. He spends the first 2-3 hours in his cot and then camps next ro me with my boob in his face for the remaining 6-7 hours. We both sleep better than if he was going back into his cot after every feed, there is minimal night hour crying and despite my bedsheets smelling more sicky than I’d like, it works for now and I know that he will sleep just as well as his sisters in the next year or so. So whilst the reality at the moment is that I share my bed with a sweaty 20lb boy most of the night, with his Daddy the other side of me, I know that reality changes very often and soon it won’t be like that.

Six years on from my parenting birthday, I have come to realise that children are extremely cute as babies, even when they grin at you with your nipple clamped between their gums. They are cute at times over the next few years, interspersed with moments when they might behave like a complete A-hole, but also have the capability to make you feel more proud than you thought was biologically possible, like when you leave them at their school on the first day of term.

How on Earth did we make it this far? I cannot for the life of me keep a house-plant alive, and I even managed to mess up growing my daughter’s pumpkin seeds that she won in school – but somehow, between me and my partner, we have managed to grow three complete children. They’re exceptionally good looking, fantastically irritating at times, but they’re ours, and we grew them.

We are not by any stretch of the imagination experts in raising babies despite having three insisting that they live in our house. Each and every day I have moments where I shout at them to get their shoes on instead of routing through the bag of never-played-with tat destined for the charity shop and I think to myself ‘shit, that was harsh, I’m really crap at this today’, or times when all I want to do is watch a BBC drama containing strong language througout, and these two girls just sit there on the sofa looking at me like ‘wtf are we going to enjoy about this?’ and I have to consider what is more important – my anticipation of finding out who killed Kay in ‘The Replacement’ or my darling children’s quality time with Mummy? Of course, it was spending precious moments drawing stickmen with the girls and laughing at their farts – that is until I got bored and tasked them with sorting out the shoe box so I could finally watch the last 3 minutes of this crime-drama really quietly and sat ridiculously close to the TV so the children didn’t start repeating obsceneties.

I’m not sure if I’m done having babies, if we might like to add another in a few years. Either way, the baby stage take:3 is rapidly reaching the end of the first year and whilst a relief, it is also tragic and sad that there will be a time when he has his last feed from me, and one day he too will no longer need to ride on Mummy’s wheelchair because he’s tired of walking. I’m enjoying being a mum, even if I don’t always feel like a mum when I can’t do something for them, and even if I have a habit of spending the first few months after habing a baby being a miserable slug. I know now that that is ok, and every othe mum should know that too.

You are allowed to be a miserable slug, shout at your kids ‘KEEP YOUR TEETH TOGETHER FOR CRYING OUT LOUD’ when brushing their teeth, and feed them hot cross buns and popcorn and claim it as a reasonable dinner. You are shattered, look like crap and lose the will to live every hour pretty much. But you are their mum and they won’t remember all this rubbish stuff. They’ll remember you reading them ‘What The Ladybird Heard’ without even needing to see the book because you are a seasoned pro, and they’ll remember getting into bed with you in the morning because you are the perfect bookend to their wake and sleep routine.

They probably won’t remember the times you measured their height and weight, and wiped away their snot for a photo so they’d sell quicker on eBay.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY.

@shopgirlygm

facebook.com/haveyoutriedwalkinglately

Reasons I love half-term

Well firstly I mean, is it really necessary? I’ve only just got over having Bertie the class bear to stay for the week in October half-term. They’ve only been back at school for about 6 weeks after having just had 2 weeks off and loads of presents and chocolate, I actually think being at school is a break for them. Calm and routine and less chocolate and movies. And they listen to teachers. They don’t bloody listen to me. They don’t even work as hard as us, why do they get a week off ‘work’ to do everything else, where is my parenting half-term? I work a lot harder than my kids and I don’t get a break. It’s just unfair.

  1. It’s 5 whole days. FIVE. Surrounded by 2 either side of the 5 days. That’s NINE days. 2 days at a time I can handle, and by Monday it’s a beautiful thing to wave to your kids at the school gates knowing they have to listen to someone else’s voice for an entire day, asking them to perform tedious tasks. Comeuppance, I say.
  2. Any sentence from a 3 year-old which begins “Shall we play…?”. Clear your throat and get ready to say ‘NO’, before the 6 year-old gets a chance to respond.
  3. Any sentence from a 6 year-old which begins “Shall we play…?”. Clear your throat again and get ready to say ‘NO’ before the 3 year-old works out what the 6 year-old wants to play and responds unfavourably.
  4. The sight, smell or mear mention of the term ‘Play-Doh’. The devil’s belly-button goo. My sister just bought a set of the bastarding pots for our now 6 year-old, and she is yet to hear what I will do to her as punishment. I haven’t decided yet but it will be harsh and she will learn never to do that again. It might start with me smearing it into her bedroom carpet and bedding.  When she has kids of her own and I get to buy them gifts, I will have the last laugh. (6 year old loves it, so that’s all that matters, apparently) 
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    Play-Doom

  5. The requests for food throughout the day. They begin at 6am when the 3 year-old requests breakfast literally as soon as her feet touch the bedroom floor, we try and hold her off for at least 30 minutes after which time she will sit in the kitchen for an hour, and eat precisely one spoonful of cornflakes. Snack requests begin immediately after being dressed. They don’t stop until they go back to sleep in the evening. Nobody can afford these kind of children. I exist mainly on tea and Aldi digestive biscuits so I don’t see why they can’t also.
  6. The sight of other peoples’ facebook updates, photographs and love for half-term. No one else needs to see how #soblessed your week with the little darlings is. Stick them in front of a movie with Nutella on crumpets and get over yourself.
  7. The sight of other peoples’ holiday photos which show that these people are just not good with money. I refuse to spend 300% more on a holiday abroad booked in the half-term week when I know that holiday destinations will be littered with other holidaying families taking up poolside loungers with more irritating children and their verrucas. If we decide to go on holiday with three kids, it will be in term-time and I will happily sacrifice their education for a week or two. I’d find court quite exciting too I think.
  8. Teachers who say “oh but children need a week off to chill out at home, they get so tired and really need it, and so do we”. THINK OF THE PARENTS PLEASE. If you care about these kids, you’ll keep your watchful eye over them so I don’t have to say “go to the bloody toilet then!” 13 million times a day. They’ll listen and pee on demand for a teacher. Also, if one needs a week off one’s job every month and a half, maybe one is in the wrong job? *
  9. When a child mentions “Mummy, can we do some cutting/painting/sticking”. RUN. RUN FOR THE HILLS.
  10. The weather. It always rains in half-term week. It’s the rule and it’s stupid. It means we can’t really go out and do anything because getting wet sucks. Kids are obsessed with wearing wellies and wellies are stupid because kids trip up in them and fall in puddles and cry. Wellies should be reserved for river-wading only, the house gets covered in streaky wet muddy marks, and then if we stay indoors all day somebody goes insane and it’s me, always me.
  11. Another half-term gem has to be the older ones waking up the 6 month-old one. He’s taken to napping for about 7 minutes, so on the rare occasion it approaches the 8 minute mark, if another child so much as exhales near him I will scream. And cancel Christmas.
  12. Needing to get out of the house to relieve the steam building up in your head through stress, but dreading the thought of walking through anywhere with other people when your 3 year-old will definitely shout out offensive observations at passers-by. Like for example when we walked past an older lady with water retention and the child exclaims “Mummy look, fat legs!” and you look, because you’re a parent and when a child tells you to look, you look, or they will shout louder.

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    A very reasonably priced child I thought.

So I propose to the schools of this country, or at least my daughters’ school, that half term consists of just 2 days. A Saturday and a Sunday beginning immediately after the last Friday of term. Then by Monday we can all be okay again and Mummy doesn’t lose her shit.

*Disclaimer: I know teachers work ridiculously hard and do amazing things for our children, despite the growing pressure they are under. And despite kids being arseholes some of the time, their teachers still encourage them.

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Cute baby – hates sleep.

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You can’t feed your baby here

I visited Marks and Spencers in Torquay recently with my young baby and my friend. We went into the baby changing/feeding room to change his nappy and I was surprised to see a place where mums can breastfeed in private, in a nice comfy chair, if they so desire. Even if you’re confident to feed wherever, it’s nice to have the choice to feed somewhere calm and comfortable. 

There was also a separate toilet cubicle for non-babies/adults/grown-ups to wee in private. However, neither of these rooms were accessible to me. By that I don’t just mean that there were no grab rails (there weren’t) but I literally couldn’t get through the ridiculously narrow doorways. My wheelchair is a pretty standard width and I can normally fit through ordinary doorways. But these were in no way ordinary. In fact I’m sure normal mums (I’m not quite normal) would struggle through them with a baby carseat or pushchair. I’m sure there is a perfectly understandable reason why M&S couldn’t spend out on wheelchair accessible change & feed rooms, it’s probably because they spent too much on vocal coaching for the tantalisingly sexy voice-over of their TV adverts. 

Aside from the toilet and the breastfeeding room not being available for me to use, the changing tables are also too high for me to reach. This is something that occurs in pretty much every baby changing cubicle however. They’re normally situated in disabled toilets which is just lovely. I get to smell my own kids’ poop on a daily basis, I don’t need to sample the aroma of 30 other babies’ sh*t when I go to the toilet but that’s a minor issue compared to how much room the changing tables and giant nappy bins take up when you’re trying to turn an electric wheelchair around in a tiny space. 

So I was left with a conundrum. I could wee in the separate disabled toilet across the corridor and just about fit the baby carseat in there too, but where could I breastfeed my baby? I didn’t like the idea of feeding him in the only toilet that I could fit my wheelchair into, and why should I have to? Would you eat in the toilets? Did it not occur to anyone that some mums might use a wheelchair? No, probably not. 

Instead, I whipped a boob out in the middle of the school uniform area and self-consciously fed my son. Hopefully I didn’t scare any young children, vulnerable pensioners or anyone in between.

To briefly conclude – These aren’t JUST breastfeeding rooms… These are 100% British M&S inaccessible breastfeeding rooms. 

The feeding room…


The parents’ toilet…


The hungry baby…


@shopgirlygm

The Painful Fourth Trimester

I’ll start this by saying that, for me at least, having children is one of the most magical things I’ve ever done. I love my three more than anything and most days if I really think about it, I can’t quite believe they are mine and that my body made them. There are lots of parts of the whole parenting thing that I love. You get to be a kid again and enjoy the things your children enjoy, at the same time as being their protector and their mentor. But it’s not always magical. Sometimes having babies is pretty shitty.

Giving birth is something that I strangely enjoy, despite all the pain and blood and the pain and useless gas and air and did I mention it’s painful? Going into labour is confusing and scary and exciting. You have no idea how things will unfold, how long it will all take and you’ve forgotten or haven’t yet experienced how bloody painful it is. But it’s happening and that means you get to meet your baby soon, and that’s what you want most. For your beautiful (you hope) baby to be here and you’ll both be well, you and your partner will be euphoric for at least some time and then you’ll get to carry on life at home with your now bigger family.

By the time you get home most of your family and friends have heard the news and can’t wait to see and hear all about the new little being. They’ve stopped asking how you’re feeling and are now asking how much sleep you’re getting. And the looks on their faces when you say “oh not too bad, about 2 or 3 hours at a time”, tells you that they slightly pity you because they can’t think of anything worse. These facial expressions are most helpful when you’re trying to be positive about the amount of sleep you’re having. You like it when family and friends will come and stay and buy take-away food, bring cake and hold the baby so you can drink a cup of tea whilst it’s still hotter than 20 degrees Celsius.

Over the first few days, these things happen: Part of your baby’s anatomy (hopefully just the umbilical cord) will shrivel up, turn a bit gunky and then fall off. Nothing is quite like it and it’s not pretty but in a strange turn of events you feel compelled to hold onto this gross little thing as a keepsake. You also feel gross – you haven’t picked up the eye liner in about seven days and you look and feel weak and somewhat ghost-like. You need to sleep only marginally less than you need oxygen to survive, and no matter how much people tell you to, sleeping during the day when the baby sleeps just doesn’t happen. Whoever came up with that nugget of advice needs to have a baby. You will lie there on the sofa for over an hour listening to BBC News on very low volume (being in the loop on current affairs is apparently quite a priority for me) with your eyes shut and you won’t fall asleep, because at any given moment, probably when you just manage to fall asleep, your baby will fart and you’ll jump out of your skin and take a further thirty minutes to relax again, at which point the baby will wake up.

After a few days you might be turning into a hermit because you haven’t stepped into outdoor daylight for quite some time, you’re wilting like an unloved plant and you think maybe a change of scenery will perk you up a bit. Just when you go to get in the car your boobs will start leaking and because you were cocky and didn’t wear breastpads, thinking you could manage to not leak just by squishing your boobs against yourself in a stealth-like manner when you feel an unwanted let-down, you’ve now got to hope that the matching 50p sized blobs of wet milk on your top will evaporate before you get to the supermarket. You get to the supermarket and you have a bit of a nervous breakdown trying to make a decision on which trolley to choose. You could put the baby in the trolley with the raised up bit that you strap the carseat onto (I am well aware of the campaigns to ban these ‘unsafe’ trolleys) but because it’s so high up and you’re in a wheelchair, you cannot see your baby for the duration of the shopping trip. Your PA (in my case) understands this issue and is just as irritated as you that there are no wheelchair-friendly baby-carrying trolleys. Because disabled people don’t have babies of course. You opt for the stupid trolley with the carseat holder and cry inside at this minor problem which doesn’t feel at all minor. Your baby is 4 days old and you’re still firmly in the stage where you have to look at their face every 3 seconds to check they’re still alive. That, and you’d like people to know that he belongs to you. You try very hard not to cry in public about this and feel like you’ve failed at this day already, this being a tiny obstacle but reminding you of how this parenting thing is never going to come as straightforwardly as it does for the average mum. You feel particularly anxious at being in a large supermarket at this stage postpartum and don’t really know what you’re supposed to be doing, so the only things you buy are shampoo and oven chips. You leave as quickly as possible and get home to be able to burst into tears on your partner’s shoulder for no apparent reason other than failing miserably at buying things in a bloody supermarket. It’s also your partner’s last day of leave and you know that tomorrow his shoulders won’t be around to cry on. Crying again. There’s a lot of crying.

In the following days you will burst into spontaneous tears whilst you’re getting dressed, sat on the sofa, sat on the toilet and many times whilst sat in your wheelchair. Unless you don’t use a wheelchair – in which case don’t worry, you can cry standing up. The baby is feeding well and putting on weight though which is the desired progression, but you still feel like you’ve accomplished nothing in the last few weeks. Check-ups with your lovely midwife have turned into check-ups with a health visitor which is scary and you want to hold onto that era for a little longer but you can’t.

You seem to have forgotten so much about the new baby stage and what the hell you did three years ago. You can’t remember how often you used to feed, or when they started to have a sleep routine or really just how the hell you do this. You’d also quite like to have an appetite again rather than just eating for the sake of needing energy to feed and be half awake. Food is a chore for the time being but hopefully it will start being fun again soon.

Suddenly the idea of seeing friends and colleagues at work fills you with nerves and you realise you’re not quite sure how to be a ‘new mum’ again in front of some people. People who aren’t used to seeing your boobs in the middle of the day. What will they think? Will they think you’re doing a good job?

Surprisingly your other two children have been nothing but adoring and helpful since the birth of their little brother. They haven’t experienced him stealing their toys yet and for the time being he’s the best thing ever. Your five-year-old takes pride in choosing his babygrows and vests when he’s puked on himself one too many times, and your pride levels rocket when you watch her holding him and rubbing her face on his velvety head because she is so in love with him. Your three-year-old is equally as in love with him but shows it in a more “I’d like to squish his head and then make his feet clap” kind of way, but she takes her job of putting nappies in the bin very seriously. You and your partner find this mildly amusing and think it’s a fitting job for the culprit of the most recent episode of pooing-in-knickers.

Some days you feel like you’re doing okay, you’ve kept the baby alive for a few weeks now and every day you look at his little face in awe at how brilliant he is. Some days, more than you’d like though, you feel completely overwhelmed and underwhelmed all at the same time, exhausted, anxious and pitiful. Everything is difficult right now. Then you look at your partner holding his baby while the girls are giggling and using felt-tips to draw ‘tattoos’ on Daddy’s back, and realise you have the perfect little package of people right here on your sofa. And you know that one way or another, between all the crying from you and the baby and the puke and the poo and the stressful mornings, everything will be okay.

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Disabled and Pregnant 

At 25 weeks pregnant, it’s getting slightly uncomfortable now, and there’s still quite a way to go until pushing day. As I’ve mentioned before, this is my third baby, but no two pregnancies are the same and it’s amazing which bits I tend to forget about each time. Other things are very familiar. 

Being this pregnant and being a wheelchair user full-time comes with its own issues, however, and I thought someone might like to hear what it’s like from a different, slightly lower down perspective. 

1. Do I even look pregnant? I currently just look like I’ve been to a large family BBQ and eaten everyone else’s food. For those who know me and know I am pregnant, they are not surprised by my growing belly. And even for people I know that didn’t know I was pregnant, I think they’d guess and hopefully not just guess that I’ve eaten all the fruit pies. But for those whom don’t know me, and might just walk past me outside or in a shop, I’m really struggling to believe that they see me as being a pregnant woman. I don’t know why it bothers me, but, there it is. Like it’s not real if people don’t recognise it. I feel like because I’m not stood up and have an obvious spherical swelling on my abdomen, wearing a tshirt that says “Hands off the bump, punk”, or whatever, and am instead sat down with what looks like your dad’s beer belly just resting precociously on my lap, it doesn’t necessarily identify me as an expectant mother. 

2. My lap is rapidly decreasing in square footage. Everything falls off my lap where before it would just sit there conveniently. As I write this, a cushion is teetering on the edge of my knees because it can’t quite get enough purchase to stay on me. It’s quite unfortunate really as even my children are feeling the wrath of being kicked out of the way by their soon-to-be baby brother. My 2.5 year old regularly asks for cuddles sat sideways on my lap but within a few moments one leg slides off, and then the other and then off she toddles, making it apparent that lap-based cuddling is just too much work right now. She’ll be back in a few months, I hope. 

3. If anything does fall off my lap onto the floor and no one is immediately at my side like a loyal puppy to retrieve said item, then I’m at a loss for ways forward as I can no longer lean to the floor for longer than a couple of seconds, and picking up pretty much any object takes an average of 1 hour 3 minutes while my hands fumble around aimlessly poking the object on the floor, until I give up, sit up and sigh. 

4. Oh yes, sighing. Or even just breathing. Having a baby growing in your belly, pushing upwards in your abdomen, and being sat down all day makes breathing such a chore at times. I mean really, surely breathing is one thing that I should be able to do by myself with no assistance! But several times a day I find myself breathless despite breathing what I thought was normally. It feels like I’m hyperventilating and it’s very annoying at 2am when turning over in bed to get comfortable has just ruined my whole night’s sleep, and now I’m irritatingly aware of every single breath, in and out. 

5. The unquenchable thirst, and the argument I have with myself over wanting to drink more and wondering if I want the drink more than I want to have to go to the toilet. Yet again. This is something any pregnant woman faces, but for me having to pop to the toilet (I cannot ‘pop’ anywhere), especially in the dark hours, is more effort than I’m willing to put in for the sake of extra hydration, at a ten minute round-trip. Sorry thirst, you lose. 

6. My partner told me, whilst getting into bed the other night that he thought David Attenborough could narrate a documentary about me. “Well that’s rude”, I hear you mutter. But really, he’s just quite  observant. Crawling from the bathroom into bed, groaning in pelvic discomfort and with a belly getting nearer to the floor each week, is somewhat akin to watching a pregnant water buffalo lay down for the night, close to birthing her next young and desperately trying to get comfortable in her bed. I think it’s quite a compliment really. I mean Sir David only narrates the best documentaries, right?

I think those are the highlights so far. Still around 15 weeks to go. Or slightly less as legend has it. 

If you have anything similar to add, disabled parenting or plain old able-bodied, please do let me know. 

Until the next installment…

@shopgirlygm