Fifty shades of what the f**k is that doing on my head?

So it’s been another long break between blogs. There’s lots of reasons why and some I might even address in a later post. But mainly because I feel like the material is getting a bit stale. 

Lack of sleep has pretty much been done to death. I look dreadful and have come to the conclusion I always will. My days are filled with yelling “Stop! Gentle hands!” And “Good boy! That is a dog! … No that’s not a dog, that’s a bird/that’s a sheep/that’s a plane/tree/truck/your father.” Which is barely interesting to me so I can’t imagine why it would be interesting to others. 

We’ve had multiple poo-in-bath scenarios I could have talked about. They were pretty gross. But I handled them like a trooper by deftly passing responsibility to my husband. 

And so for months I wrote nothing, though thought about plenty. Struck by how different my life is now compared to pre-Tom. I had a good look at my face in the mirror to see exactly how I’d weathered. And then I was struck by something. There I saw it. Just a month shy of my 30th birthday. Sitting there in a dismal attempt to blend in with the others. 

My first grey hair. 

And let me tell you it has no fucking business being on my head. What the actual fuck? It’s bad enough that I don’t sleep, my skin is disgusting, I have black rings around my eyes, all my clothes have some sort of baby-related stain on them and my belly does this funny jiggly thing that it never used to do before, but now motherhood HAS TURNED MY FUCKING HAIR GREY. Dealing with tiny Satan 24/7, working, wife-ing and just generally surviving should make me a warrior queen, but instead has just made it necessary to spend a fortune correcting nature’s mistake every 4-6 weeks. (If you guys can all ask your grandmothers where I can buy blue hair dye in bulk that’d be great.) Before I know it I’ll be calling people “pet” and becoming hard of hearing. I JUST HAD TO GET NEW GLASSES BECAUSE I’M OLD NOW. Where did it all go wrong?

Some may say this is an overreaction to the prospect of turning 30. They’re probably correct. And this is no doubt an ugly side to me, this vanity. The people who know me in real life are shocked since I’ve had no concern about my appearance before. Quite clearly. But I feel like I’ve been robbed! I might have maintained my precious locks a little while longer, less the stress of a toddler who refused to walk until this week, who consistently whines and remains fussy with food and WHO STILL WON’T FUCKING SLEEP (there I go again.) But I suppose I’ll never know. So I’ll just add it to the list of things to remind Tom about when he starts giving me grief as a teenager. 

It’s a bloody long list. 

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Why “Silver Linings Thinking” is bullshit. Just get your hair done instead.

Moving to a new town and not knowing a soul, I can feel myself teetering dangerously on the edge of a dark cloud. It’s not unlike how I felt almost exactly a year ago when Tom first came along. I feel isolated. My husband is away with work again. Even the TV is the same. I am inexplicably addicted to reality shows such as “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here.” Which lets face it, is just bad television. I also had this ridiculous idea that this was a good time to quit sugar? 

I am not making good choices.

I miss my friends, I miss my house, I miss my husband. And here I don’t have the same support system close by that I did the last time I was… on the edge of a dark cloud. When Tom first came along, I had to force myself out of the house each day so that I didn’t go crazy. Much harder to do here when there’s no one to go and see. But as I recognise the signs, I can start taking preventative measures. One of my particular talents (when I feel so inclined) is something I like to call “Silver Linings Thinking.” It’s when I try and change my mindset to reframe things more optimistically. I realise this may come as a surprise to people, it’s really kind of a choice thing. I can think positively when I want to, however being a sarcastic bitch comes so much more naturally and is therefore my default setting. But that isn’t working for me this week, so this is my effort at consciously trying to put a positive spin on all the things that have made it a fucking nightmare:

Day 1

Thank you Thomas, for deciding at 2am that you love me so much that you’ll cry and scream and flap your hands until you can give me one of your tight, neck-crushing hugs while rubbing your tear-soaked cheeks into my face. Even though I saw you just 40 minutes previously when I fed you for umpteenth time; it is so wonderful to be loved.

When I took you back to my bed in defeat, thank you for deciding that this would be an appropriate time to showcase your talents, including blowing raspberries on my chest, clapping your hands and pointing to Otis while repeating the word “dog.” I am so pleased you can talk now, what an epic milestone in your development.

Thank you for the next hour of stroking my face and hair. I know that when you pull it and shove it into your mouth that it’s a display of your feelings for me and I realise how lucky I am that someone loves me so much that he wants to literally consume me. Attempting to stroke my eyelashes was a nice touch and I know you didn’t mean it when you almost gouged my eyes out – multiple times. You’re just enthusiastic. An admirable trait.

I also admire your tenacity and determination. This will undoubtedly serve you well as an adult. You stand up for what you want. Even when it is clearly a detriment to your health and mine. Sometimes it’s okay to give in though. Like when you body slam me and smash your head into mine out of pure exhaustion? Then would be a good time to maybe just fall asleep. I see that you do sometimes try to get comfortable, but I disturb you because I quite like being able to breathe and your head on my neck kind of crushes my windpipe. Sorry about that. Next time lets work together on this and just have you sleep in your cot, yeah?

Even in my sleep deprived and albeit pissed off state, it still amuses me that when I try singing you to sleep, you start to wriggle and dance and nod your head along to the tune. So rhythmic & entertaining. So fucking annoying… I mean delightful. 

STOP. We might be here awhile if I do the whole week. The above was literally just a couple of hours into day 1. Though actually, repeat the above another 6 times and that is about as good as my week has gotten.

My point is this week Tom has dropped toast, his toothbrush and Otis’s tennis ball into the toilet, always from a height and with just the right amount of dramatic flair; which is an incredibly jerk-like and calculated move. It would be easy to be frustrated and pissed off, but that just feeds the dark cloud. So I try to make myself feel better by turning it into a positive. And the only positive I can get from this is… 

Nothing. 

Fucking nothing. I was completely exasperated by his apparent preoccupation with the toilet bowl. Sometimes kids just really piss you off and no amount of “Silver Linings Thinking” will make it better. He has spent this week angrily shouting at me after I pick him up from daycare as if to say “How could you leave me there all day long?” (quite easily, my friend), screaming – and I mean SCREAMING whenever he isn’t being physically held and refusing to eat any food, instead donating it to the floor, his hair and Otis. Who is fast becoming morbidly obese. Sometimes things are just shit. 

This is why my default setting is sarcasm with a degree in Resting Bitch Face. “Silver Linings Thinking” really only applies when I’m thinking about situations that don’t involve me, like “Oh I’m sorry your husband woke the baby with the lawnmower, at least your garden looks nice?” Which in my house is an unforgivable offence. 

But rather than let these things get to me and continue the spiral downwards, I refuse to be consumed. Which is fucking hard work. But I won’t be lonely forever. 3 years ago Townsville felt like an abominable wasteland and now it feels like a second home. I’m sure Singleton will prove it’s worth as time goes on. We will meet some people and make some friends. In the meantime when positive thinking doesn’t work, go spend an exorbitant amount of money getting your hair done to make yourself feel better. Totally worth it.

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Doesn’t this say “Hey I’m just casually being casual, taking selfies of my new hairdo because I have no one to visit and show it off to, but do not pity me, I’m fucking fabulous”? 

Childcare. It’s good for the soul. 

Childcare. I was dreading the day I had to put Tom into childcare. It was imminent. I’d had a year off work, we had just moved to a new town where I knew nobody and my maternity leave was over. Also, I’m a pretty damn good nurse and I don’t want to give it up. I like working. And having adult conversations. There’s only so many times you can sing “Do The Propeller” by The Wiggles before committing yourself into an institution.

Like most mums (I imagine), I was absolutely dreading it. Tom has made it quite clear in his short life that no one but Mummy will do. Mummy has the boobs. Tom likes the boobs. (Yes. “Still.” Don’t make me get hardcore lactavist on you. I’ll do it.) He is a baby of the velcro kind, constantly wanting physical contact with his mother. ALL THE FUCKING TIME. While dad is usually fine and he gets the occasional delights from his grandparents/aunties/uncles, it’s really only mum’s hair he wants to pull and her face he wants to slap painfully with affection. So you can imagine my apprehension about leaving him with a roomful of strangers.

It’s important to note here that in the lead up to his first day, Tom had been a fucking nightmare. Not his fault, we’d rudely disrupted his schedule multiple times by shifting him from Townsville, Sydney, Brisbane, NZ, Narnia. You name it, we went there. He was clearly bewildered, frustrated and had upgraded his Velcro Baby status to Industrial Superglue baby. Sleep, while looking promising in the 3 weeks before we moved house, had quite definitely returned to its non-existent pattern of the 9 months previous. He could whine for Australia and was also teething. Lots happening for Master Q.

Leaving him without free access to the milk makers for half a day scared me shitless. I imagined the worst. Tears, screaming, yelling, the infamous flappy hands. And that was just from me. And of course the steaming hot pile of guilt that accompanies just about every decision I make in life now. Not to mention everyone and their mother warned me how horrific it is to leave your child in daycare; how sad and painful it is when they cry and scream because they don’t understand why you are leaving them; and the overwhelming guilt that you feel will make you feel like the shittest person in the world but don’t even worry about it, he’ll be fine Jen. Even though you feel like scum.

I needn’t have worried. He couldn’t have give 2 shits whether I was there or not. One look of apprehension around the room before his eyes widened after spotting a ball and then tried to physically leap out of my arms to play with it and never looked back. I walked out of the centre with my sunglasses on to hide my tears; holding back sobs until I got to my car and then loudly and unflatteringly cried all the way home.

I was sort of prepared for it. I expected to feel sick leaving him there. I expected to feel guilty and awful about the fact that I couldn’t look after him everyday anymore because I had to go back to work. And sure I guess I felt those things. But mostly I just felt so thankful that I didn’t have to look after him that day. I sobbed my heart out all the way home because I was relieved.

I WAS SO FUCKING RELIEVED. I felt free. This was pretty much the most time I had ever spent away from him. As my job hadn’t started yet I had a day where I COULD DO WHATEVER I WANTED. I can’t even begin to tell you how momentous that was. I could enjoy a hot shower for as long as I wanted – BY MYSELF! I could drink HOT coffee. I could paint my nails, straighten my hair, read a book, listen to MY music. I could sit in silence. I could cook whatever I wanted, go clothes shopping… I COULD FUCKING SLEEP!!!!!! The only guilt I felt was at how happy I was that I finally had a day to myself. He was safe, I’d expressed milk, it was only really half a day, he likes playing with other kids. Win-win.

In reality, I unpacked the rest of the boxes in our house whilst listening to podcasts, but I did it without a tiny human attached to me and it was the fucking best. I don’t even care that I sound heartless and probably a bit like I don’t love my child. Of course I do. He is the sun, moon and stars. He’s also a giant pain in the arse. Having a few hours to breathe and not have to sing nursery rhymes, change nappies, breastfeed and prepare meals all day felt like all my Christmases had come at once. You don’t appreciate that time before you have a baby and I know now to never take that time for granted again.

When I picked him up that afternoon, he was happily playing with some other children, babbling away. My heart swelled with love when I saw him. The ladies gushed over what a wonderful day he’d had. He’d napped, drank out of a bottle (a repeated battle in the past), played happily (apart from when he was bitten on the chin by a little girl who didn’t appreciate him pulling her hair for some reason. Go figure.) I was proud as punch and feeling good about this being a regular occurrence. It was then that he caught my eye and stopped everything, hurriedly crawling towards me before kneeling at my feet and began flapping his hands and screeching.

I narrowed my eyes. I’m wise to your tricks mister. Trying to make me feel guilty AF for leaving you here all day when I know you’ve had a perfectly nice time?

Well it worked. I scooped that kid up and smothered him in kisses while he gleefully wrapped his arms around my neck. Because God I love that baby.

Thank goodness for the knight in camouflage.

So I haven’t blogged in ages and don’t really have a good reason why other than the fact that we recently moved interstate, had 2 Christmases and then went overseas for 2 weeks. With a 10 month old. Because we like to live on the edge. Some tips on travelling overseas with a baby? Don’t, if you can possibly help it. The end.

In all seriousness, we had a wonderful time away. We got to watch our beautiful friends tie the knot in the most love filled, emotional ceremony I’ve ever been to. We got to hang out with old friends and make some new ones before setting off on a driving tour of New Zealand’s north island which is damn fine place to visit. Better still without the tiny human in tow, I’d venture. However, that is another post for another day. My renewed energy into the blogosphere came to me today when I locked myself and Thomas out of our house. Because adventure.

It’s happened to all of us at some time or another. If you’re lucky, you were baby-less. And it wasn’t 30 degrees with limited shade and no water or snacks for you or your child. You’d remember the code for the lock box at the side of your house that holds the spare key. You’d be able to reach your husband who has his own set of keys, as well as some impressive skills at breaking and entering (that you may need to bring up with him at some point.) Defence Housing would be able to tell you the numbers for the lock box and/or send round a locksmith. You wouldn’t have to wait for up to 3 hours for a locksmith to attend your residence even though it’s the middle of summer and you have an infant with you. You’d be able to open the side gates and attempt breaking in through the back of the house yourself, because the gates definitely wouldn’t be padlocked for some inexplicable reason. You wouldn’t then have to formulate a plan on how to jump the fence whilst holding a baby versus jumping it and leaving him at the front of the house where he will almost certainly cry/crawl onto the road/be kidnapped.

You definitely wouldn’t weigh up the pros and cons of dropping Tom over the back fence and wonder if the height of the fall will give him a head injury or just break his legs.

You wouldn’t have some helpful people tell you to “just go for a drive” while you wait for your husband to get home and then through gritted teeth have to explain that your house keys are with your car keys and thus you are without transportation. You wouldn’t swear blindly at your husband like it’s all his fault when he finally answers his phone and then hang up on him like a petulant child when he explains that the lock box has no key in it. And you most certainly wouldn’t fall into a heap on the front porch with your baby and cry together in frustration. Definitely not.IMG_6264

First world problems for sure, but fucking annoying all the same. I had this hopeless, helpless, damsel in distress vibe going on and I did not like it one bit. So naturally, I cried about it and waited for Mick to come rescue me. Which he did rather gallantly and selflessly, even though he was doing some very important man-business at work… (It’s been 6 years and I still don’t really know what he does day-to-day in that place.)

While I was waiting I had a rather lot of time to think. And what came to me was this: No matter how much I try to micro-manage and plan and be responsible for everything and everyone in my little family, sometimes things are just going to be shit. I got locked out of the house today because I forgot to pick up my keys before shutting the door, plain and simple. It was 100% my fault. Which is a rather disappointing conclusion to come to when you’re a ridiculous overachiever and think everything in life is your responsibility. And instead of treating this problem as the little blip in my day that it should have been, I overreacted and felt like this ultimate failure of a mother who can’t even remember to pick up her keys and potentially put her son at risk by not having water/snacks/sunscreen etc… Anyone else hear the stupid in that statement? For fuck’s sake.

So I wrote this post to put it in perspective and to give myself a break. Because I’m human. A glorious human who sometimes makes mistakes and needs rescuing every once in a while by a knight in camouflage.

 

“Something humuorous about sex parties vs. baby rhyme time.” A working title.

How drastically our lives change once having babies. One minute you’re at an “adult party” where 2 gay salesmen are trying to convince you to buy 6 vibrators and some lychee flavoured lubricant. The next you’re sitting in a library singing nursery rhymes over the wails of crying babies begging for the songs about piggies going to the market and boats rowing merrily down streams  to just shut the fuck up. I assume. I may have been projecting.

*Just to clarify, the adult party was not the ultimate cause of my attendance at baby rhyme time in the local library. I was already heavily pregnant when being showcased sex toys. And sober. It was awkward for everyone involved.

My point is, is that a year ago I would have legit LOL’D in your face if you’d painted me this picture of my life. And yet there I was, properly singing nursery rhymes (not mouthing the words or being too cool to sing) to my little boy who was one of the few babies actually enjoying it and smiling coyly around the room. I felt conflicted. On the one hand, my cynical pre-baby self was cringing, CRINGING at what I had become. This part of my brain was shouting “You sellout. You look like such a moron right now. Remember when you had intelligent conversations about… things? Remember?!” The sounds of a roomful of tone-deaf mothers made me want to pull my own ears off. The group leaders demonstrated the actions to the songs with toy dolls and FINGER PUPPETS. I had a desperate urge to remove myself immediately, pending a lobotomy.

On the other hand? I FUCKING LOVED IT. My whole life I have dreamt that I should be the star of my own musical where everyone around me breaks into synchronised dance moves, pounding out some power ballads and wearing dramatic costumes – this was about as damn close as I was going to get. Not to mention the sheer joy on Tom’s face, clearly shaping his own dreams regarding musical ventures. #raisinghimright

Yes that's me. Doing real swimming lessons.
Yes that’s me. Doing real swimming lessons.

The whole experience has made me think about my attitude coming into motherhood. It’s like I tried to resist it. Determined that it wouldn’t change me and that I would not change anything about my life “just because I had a baby.” Who the fuck was I kidding? Since becoming a mother, I have been invited to more Tupperware parties, Thermomix demonstrations and “mums and bubs” themed gatherings than I would have thought possible. Today I had lunch in a fucking play centre, filled with slides and ball pits and noisy, sticky, smelly children (including my own.) When I go shopping, I trawl the baby clothes departments and look at educational books and toys I can buy for my son, before looking at items for myself. We go to swimming lessons. All things I would not have been caught dead doing pre-baby.

I was a bit of a dick prior to motherhood.

Some aspects of my life are the same. My day centres around meals and naps, though no longer my own. I’m regularly up at 2am, though no longer by choice. And I still drink bucket loads of coffee, though no longer for enjoyment but necessity. And while I’ve had to give up much of life’s simple pleasures like sleep and regular self-care and leaving the house after 6pm, I find that nearly 9 months in, I don’t hate this new lifestyle. In fact I’d go so far as to say that I rather enjoy it.

“Oh you ripped your vagina? You should have used an EPI-NO.”

Just a brief post, as something has come to my attention and needs to be shared immediately. And I know how much you’ve missed it… THIS POST FEATURES TALK OF VAGINAS!

You’ll be super stoked to know that my vagina is intact and raring to go. I know this due to the multiple doctors that probed me again to check that things were in working order after my heinous 3rd degree tear sitch. Only took 6 MONTHS TO GET THE ALL CLEAR. It was bloody painful, no doubt about it (I cried), but no lasting damage done and a nice reminder from the medical team to “drown your vagina with lubricant when it comes to sexy times.” True story. Not weird at all.

Anyway, I was recently chatting with a friend who is due to give birth in the next few weeks and the topic of my tear came up in conversation as it invariably does. She informed me that she has been plied with advice from some friendly midwives that a good way to prevent any tearing in your perineum when giving birth is to use an instrument known as an EPI-NO. I know, I know, I hear you. What the hell is an EPI-NO, you ask? See the incredibly intimidating diagram below.

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http://www.epino.de/en/regeneration-with-epino-delphine-plus.html
Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 9.54.11 pm
http://www.epi-no.com.au/epi-no/

Official description: An EPI-NO is a device that a woman inserts into her vagina to train and stretch the perineum to prevent tearing when pushing a baby out. Correct instructions can be found in the diagram to the right and on the EPI-NO website.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

My version of terminology: An instrument that greatly resembles a blood pressure cuff for your vagina and/or a sex toy. A lady shoves a balloon in her hoo-ha and pumps it up to stretch it out so it doesn’t break when she gives birth to a giant watermelon with ear muffs.

After first being told about the EPI-NO, I was flabbergasted. “WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK IS THIS?!” I didn’t even believe it was a real thing. I thought for sure all of my very legitimate research (read Googling) on Evening Primrose Oil being shoved up your hoo-ha to bring on labour might have directed me to some information about this EPI-NO. But no. I was left in the dark, doomed to have my lady bits ripped to shreds and have months of vaginal probing by every single member of the gynaecological team at the local hospital, with eager students volunteering to hold the torch so their superiors can see every facet of my cervix. Not to mention the emotional turmoil of such an event. And all along, there was the EPI-NO to help prevent such a travesty. (There’s also perineal massage, which I was informed about and turned my nose up at. Much regret.)

In saying that, pre-baby me probably would have taken one look at the EPI-NO and would have been like “Fuck this, I’m out!”

Anyway, the only reason I’m bringing this to your attention is so future mumma’s can look into it, because God knows no one will tell you about it until after the fact. “Oh you ripped your vagina? You should have used an EPI-NO.”

*eye twitch*

The Formidable Pram Gang Chronicles.

I was always really reluctant about joining a mum’s group before I had a baby, I was massive snob about it. I thought there was nothing sadder than a bunch of ladies sitting around all day just talking about their babies. I was all “I don’t wanna talk about my baby all day, I’m interesting and have other things to talk about, blah blah blah.” Turns out I’m not and I don’t. I joined a mum’s group and thank god I did. They are awesome.

Our group consists of women of all different professions including a hairdresser, a lawyer, a doctor – basically we got our shit covered. Separately we are hot messes that drink our coffees in the shower and accidentally pick our babies up upside down in a sleep-deprived haze in the middle of the night as we make the trek to the nursery for the 2am feed, but collectively we are the most well informed group of women who can literally talk your face off about all things baby.

First of all, nothing is off limits. Poo, wee, vomit, periods, sex, boobs, vaginas, we talk about everything. It’s like something happens to your internal filter once you’ve given birth and topics that you’d usually steer clear of (well not me, but other people usually steer clear of), you are suddenly quite willing to discuss over a pot of tea and biscuits. Or cake or wine or chocolate or cheese. Or all of those things at once. We do that a lot.

Bitches will hook you up. Sales on nappies, check. Poo explosion assistance, check. Swimming lessons, markets, venturing out for picnics in the park, check, check, check. If there is anything baby-related happening in town, you know one of us is there to scope it out and report back to the others. When someone finds something that works in regards to sleeping, feeding, settling, it’s instantly shared. We’re a team, a network of mummy’s just trying to get by and realise the benefit of safety in numbers.

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When sleep strategies don’t work.

We talk strategy. This is usually centred around naps. We know EVERYTHING about swaddles, white noise, lullabies, LAVENDER (creates a zen baby), the Masada pat pat technique (fucking magic) and anything and everything that does or does not work in regards to sleeping. Because I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone WE’RE FUCKING TIRED, so when something works, we instantly share.

Exhibit A

Me: I just let Tom fall asleep in the rocker while watching Human Nature on the TV. He was captivated by their harmonies and synchronised dance moves and then bam! Out like a light.

Fellow Mumma: The only thing wrong with this is Human Nature.

Me: Right? Poor taste… Just to be clear, I was not watching Human Nature.

Fellow Mumma: Tell it to the jury, Quilty.

Ahem.

IMG_3101Strategy discussions can also include but are not limited to: teething, how to avoid your nipple getting bitten off, how to deal with milk overspray in public and the best way to get your kid to eat food and stop turning his nose up at everything that is offered to him like some righteous food snob *cough* Tom *cough*

They encourage you to build your “Crunchy Mama” status. Buying woven wraps and carriers has become a guilty pleasure that only other fellow crunchies understand. We consistently try to help each other come up with reasons as to why it’s necessary to buy multiple baby-wearing devices. We also almost aggressively breastfeed in public in the hopes of normalising it, so that all the breastfeeding mum’s everywhere can feel comfortable doing one of the most natural things in the world, without being stared, pointed or scoffed at; or be asked to feed their child in the bathroom. Because I know I like to eat lunch on the toilet. Because hygienic. 

They will talk you out of stupid shit, like following Tizzie Hall’s Save Our Sleep routine and to always go with your first instinct – and that is to never trust the advice of anyone named Tizzie. (The woman has no qualifications. None. She is a BABYSITTER and until she has some hard evidence or a postgraduate qualification in infant neurological development or just… you know, anything to legitimise her opinions, then you will not convince me otherwise.)

We applaud ourselves for going to bootcamp to lose the baby weight and celebrate by meeting afterwards for cake and milkshakes… For salad. We eat salad. We bond over that moment everyone stops skipping with a jump-rope at the same time because we all realised our pelvic floors aren’t what they once were. And then high five each other at the end of the session when no one wets themselves. It’s nice.

When a whole group of us walk The Strand with all our babies in prams, we’re pretty much a formidable force of superhero mumma’s. People move out of our way and stare at us in awe. We have an air of “Do not fuck with us.” Because seriously, don’t fuck with us.

We all parent differently and that’s ok. Breastfeeding or formula, purees or baby-led weaning, routines or flying by the seat of our pants, everybody can do their own thing and still support the others. There’s no competition.

You can vent to them about your day without the fear of being judged. Chances are your fellow mummy’s know exactly what you’re going through and are ready and willing to listen, coffee and donuts in hand. They nod when you call your kid “devil spawn” and don’t judge you when you wail like a banshee because you’re so sleep deprived. They give sound advice and build you up and praise you, telling you what an amazing job you’re doing and always know exactly what to say to make you feel better. And you can accept it from them because they see and talk to you almost every day, they see you at your best and your worst and understand the pressures of being a first time mum perfectly, because they’re right there doing it themselves.

I reckon though that the absolute best bit is when you get past talking about your babies and realise that these girls are people you actually have things in common with. They become your friends, your real friends not just mummy friends. We bond over watching The Bachelor (OMG anyone watch it last night?! DRAMA!), talk each other out of impulse car purchases (you know who you are) and discuss our lives prior to having kids. We share stories about travel, work and the occasional husband-bash and realise we are delightfully witty and intelligent women who have more than just their babies in common.

All the loneliness I had in the beginning has dissipated because of these lovely ladies and I’ll be very sad to leave them at the end of the year, as the ADF is about due to mess up my personal life again. I suppose I’ll have to join another mum’s group. But don’t worry girls, you’ll always be my first. Nothing will change that. #emotions #somanyfeels

I’m a “Crunchy Mama” and I’m okay with it. 

A woman scoffed at me today. Yes scoffed. I was walking around the shopping centre with my 5 month old asleep (!!!) in a baby carrier. We met at a crossroads in Aldi, she had her similar aged bub in a pram. She took one look at me, scoffed, and then made a big production about moving her pram around the corner into the next aisle.

Now I don’t know for sure what it was about me she found so offensive. Redheads are often a target of cruelty, however since she didn’t yell out “ranga” at me, I don’t think it was that. No, I instinctively felt it had to do with the baby carrier. I’ve seen that look before. The tuts. The rolled eyes. The “man she’s so lazy, just hold your damn kid, you hippy” look. Once I was trying to wrangle Tom into the carrier when we were waiting to disembark a plane, and a kind eyed woman said “wouldn’t it just be easier to hold him, dear?” like I was some pitiful fool for strapping my kid to my body in the first place. As I clipped the carrier into place, I replied with “Um no. Do you see how I now have 2 free hands? It means I can scratch my arse with both of them, should I feel the need. You can’t buy that kind of freedom.”

Then this evening I happened across an article entitled “Umbilical nonseverance and chickenpox parties: the world of the Crunchy Mamas.” (A simple Google search will take you to the article, should you be interested in reading it.) The author of the article (a man) takes particular offence at a woman breastfeeding her 3 year old at a wedding, labels her a “crunchy mama” (or someone that subscribes to “attachment parenting”), before slamming attachment parenting as a ridiculous parenting style that creates narcissistic adults.

Now just a bit of background, for those not in the know: Attachment parenting is a style in which parents recognise their child’s emotional and physical needs and then respond sensitively to those needs… So just parenting, basically. Attachment parenting is characterised by demand feeding, co-sleeping, wearing your baby (for increased closeness) and using your intuition and following cues from your baby versus scheduled feeding or crying it out. Ultimately attachment parents believe they are creating secure, independent and happy little people. That’s it, in its very basic form. I could go on, but boring. Go and Google it if you want to know more.

Now, I don’t feel like anyone has to be pigeonholed into a particular style of parenting. Honestly, I just feel like if it works and feels right for you, just do whatever you need to do to survive. I’m not gonna bash another woman’s parenting choices, like this dickhead has decided to do. (How this woman breastfeeding her 3 year old at a wedding impacts him in any way is beyond me.) But I like the general idea of attachment parenting. It makes sense to me to pick up my baby when he cries, to breastfeed him whether for hunger or comfort, and to co-sleep to keep him calm and sleeping for longer as well as allowing me to have greater periods of rest. The way I parent isn’t for everyone. Hell, some days it isn’t even for me. I would love to stretch out in bed by myself, sleep the whole night, drink wine whenever I wanted without thinking about whether or not I had enough time before the next feed. But we do things the way we do them because they work for us.

Attachment parenting is something I had heard of before and if I HAD to subscribe to a parenting label, it’s probably that. And therefore I can only assume I’d be referred to as a Crunchy Mama. However, I’d never heard the term before and so gritted my teeth and continued reading this ridiculous piece of journalism to find out what constitutes a mama being labelled crunchy.

This man references The Stir website which lists 20 reasons why someone may be a Crunchy Mama and they are:

1. You have a chicken coop in your backyard, and you’re not a farmer.

-What the fuck does this have to do with parenting? Literally nothing. I have childless, non-farmer friends who have chicken coops. I don’t have a chicken coop, though now it’s been suggested that sounds like a great idea. Free eggs!

2. You love a good chickenpox party.

– If everyone just vaccinated their fucking kids this wouldn’t even be an issue. This is pretty much the only parenting decision I will judge you for, because it DOES effect me, my son and the rest of society. If you don’t vaccinate because you believe fabricated reports that it causes autism (like that’s the worst thing that could ever happen to you) you are quite frankly, a fucking moron.

3. Scoring raw milk is your idea of a thrill.

4. You and your husband haven’t slept alone in your bed since your first child was born.

-This one is probably true. Tom has more than likely spent more time in our bed than out of it. And you know why? BECAUSE IT’S THE ONLY PLACE HE FUCKING SLEEPS. And even then we’re pushing it, he wriggles around and sings to himself all the time. I literally haven’t slept longer than 4 hours in a row for 6 months. It’s 2 hours or less most nights. I got shit to do and sleep to be had. Into our bed he comes.

5. Your children indicate their need to nurse … in full sentences.

– I’m not going to bash the choices of other women. Breastfeed your kid for however long you like. The World Health Organisation recommends up until 2 years of age, but by all means let’s take the advice of keyboard warriors and social commentators who’ve decided it’s more socially appropriate to stop at the age of 1 or less. Now I don’t know how long we’ll breastfeed for. I don’t think it’s something you just decide, there’s a whole myriad of reasons as to why women (and babies) want to stop breastfeeding. But I do know that on Tom’s first birthday, I’m not just going to say “sorry buddy, the milk bar is closed” and then refuse to feed him because some ignoramus finds it offensive.

6. You use terms like “EBF” and assume everyone knows what you mean.

-To be fair, most of the people I talk to regularly do know what that means. For those who don’t, it means Exclusively Breastfed. Mums have abbreviations for everything. FDC (Family Day Care). BLW (Baby-Led Weaning). FFS (For Fuck’s Sake).

7. You coordinate your wardrobe around wraps, slings, and other baby-wearing devices. (ie, you “wear your baby.”)

– Well this is just good fashion sense. And kids are damn heavy.

8. Your kids whip out kale chips at playgroup while the other kids eat Oreos.

– My kids will be whipping out whatever we’ve got in the cupboard. And I can tell you right now they’re more likely to be Oreos than kale chips.

9. Their diets are gluten-free AND Paleo.

– Most days my internal monologue goes something like this: FEED ME ALL THE BREAD AND CHEESE AND CHOCOLATE.

10. You know some really good placenta recipes.

11. You not only use cloth nappies, you make them (and wash them) yourself.

– Why anyone would scoff at this is beyond me. I don’t do it out of pure laziness, but it makes total sense. It’s cheaper, environmentally friendly, and if it weren’t for the increased risk of getting shit on my hands I’d totally do it.

12. The only school for your kids is homeschool.

– Uhh no. The minute he’s old enough, that kid is off to mainstream school. I’m counting down the days to having even an hour of freedom.

13. You use “family cloth” instead of toilet paper.

14. You drive a Prius.

15. You have a composter and you use it.

– I’m starting to feel like this guy has something against the environment.

16. Your children aren’t vaccinated and never will be.

– Imma say it again. EVERYONE JUST FUCKING VACCINATE YOUR KIDS.

17. There’s pretty much nothing you can’t make yourself from bug spray to cleaning supplies to granola.

18. You believe coconut oil and breast milk can cure pretty much anything.

– This is just good science.

19. You use a menstrual cup.

20. You talk about transitioning your children into their own bed … about the time they’re ready to go to college

– I often joke about this as I weep for my own space. However, I’m yet to meet a 10 year old that doesn’t sleep in their own bed.

As a so-called attachment parent, I expected to rate higher on the “Crunchy Mama” scale, however since only a few of those statements had anything to do with parenting or a persons relationship with their child, oh and IT WAS WRITTEN BY A COMPLETE WANKER and then shared by an equally ignorant journalist, perhaps it’s unsurprising.

I think lots of people think attachment parenting is something for “hippy earth mothers” who don’t shave their pits, take vegan snacks to parties, use enviro-bags, wear tie dyed pants and make their own soap. Who the fuck cares? I’m an attachment parent and I enjoy wearing floaty pants, I don’t wash my hair often enough, I work in mental health (apparently we’re all a little bit left of centre) and use coconut oil most days, whether in my food, skin or hair. I also like expensive perfumes, my car uses petrol, cheese and wine are my primary food groups and some days it’s a tough choice between Netflix and nature.

To those who are criticising the attachment parents or Crunchy Mamas, let me educate you on a few things. Baby carriers and wraps have many uses. Maybe I am lazy, like I think the women in Aldi felt I was. But I wear my baby for lots of reasons. Because he’s calmer when being worn. Because the kid weighs over 7kgs and I don’t want to lug him around in my arms all day. It allows me two free hands. I can eat! HE SLEEPS IN IT. It hides all the milk/vomit/poo stains on your shirt. Its uses are endless.

You can be environmentally friendly, teach your kids about responsibility (e.g. chicken coop), grow your own vegetables and still vaccinate.

Breastfeeding is natural. It’s what my body was designed to do. And just because society has sexualised breasts, doesn’t make breastfeeding a dirty act. So guess what? I’m gonna do it. IN PUBLIC. And yes that includes at weddings if need be. And seriously, I dare you to approach me with disdain whilst I do it. Insert brelfie. (That’s breastfeeding selfie.) And if you’re offended by this, good for you. Get huffy and indignant about something that literally affects you in no way, shape or form.


Also breastmilk does cure everything. Haven’t you read my blog?

Eleventy billionth overshare. Hallelujah for bladder control.

The Vagina Saga never ends. Prepare for another overshare.

A few days ago I finally had a follow-up appointment with a specialist to make sure my ravaged pelvic muscles had healed themselves adequately after the giant watermelon child broke them. They call it an endo-anal scan which is just as much fun as it sounds. As soon as I got there, all the nurses gushed over Tom (who was loving it, the flirt) and I was shoved into a change room, told to strip off my clothes and put on a backless hospital gown. Afterwards, I proceeded to wander down the day surgery hallways with my arse hanging out. It was the best.

I walked into the waiting room and sat with 4 or 5 other women, all waiting to have various procedures done. They all cooed over Tom from their chairs, too scared to move closer in case their gowns fell open and revealed lady gardens and the like. There’s something unnerving about sitting in a room where everyone is going commando. It was like we all realised it at the same time. An uncomfortable silence ensued.

Bemused baby.
Bemused baby.

They called me into the “endoscopy room.” The nurse wheeled Tom in his pram to the corner “to get the best view.” So that was weird. The room was set up with a bed, a screen and a rather large looking probe that made me look twice – HOW FAR ARE THEY GONNA SHOVE IT IN?! I felt sick. I met the specialist, who I remembered from the day Tom was born. He was the one who told me “don’t worry you’ll be stitched up real good, your husband will be very happy” and “no rumpy-pumpy for 4 to 6 weeks afterwards.” Happy memories. By all accounts a very nice man, just bizarrely inappropriate. He was there with his registrar and a medical student. Because everyone likes an audience when getting a giant wand shoved up their bum. 

“What kind of tear did you have, 3rd or 4th degree?” he asked me. Uh… I’m sorry Doctor, but shouldn’t you kind of know that already? I answered with 3rd degree. “3b, 3c…?” He continued to ask me. Um… I haven’t a fucking clue, there are different types of 3rd degree tears? “Did you have an episiotomy?” Again… Kind of thought you’d know that. No Doc. Just good old fashioned “natural” ripping open of the vagina.

“How do the muscles feel? Nice and tight? Any problems with urinary continence? What about pooing, can you do that okay? Any issues with flatulence or holding things in? No? Excellent.” All questions he had to ask and I gladly denied any issues. Everything is in good working order. Then it came time for the probe. I had to lie on my side with my knees to my chest and expose my bum, ready for the giant wand to be shoved up there. All while my baby stared at me from his pram, looking bemused. I stared back at him, thankful he’ll never remember this. And also storing the memory away to tell at his 21st.

As they were getting things ready I had a brief feeling of panic, worried that maybe something would be wrong. Right after I gave birth and was stitched up there were multiple nurses and doctors who told me I’d have to have a caesarean next time I had a baby, as the “muscle memory” would probably cause me to tear again. While of course a caesarean wouldn’t be the end of the world, (and I’ve even joked about wanting that the next time), it’s a bit different when the choice is taken away from you. All of the emotions of my birth experience came back and momentarily I felt raw and overwhelmed, scared that something would be wrong. Even though I’d practiced my pelvic floor exercises everyday since Tom was born, I feared I’d be wearing adult diapers way too early in life. And ain’t nobody got time for that.

So, the probe went in and up and I got a running commentary on how my pelvic muscles are in “tip-top condition” and are perfectly repaired. I sighed with relief. I’m not likely to wet or shit myself anytime in the near future; and I’d be fine to push out another baby should I ever feel the need. TAKE THAT SCAREMONGERS! Then the doctor asked me “So what about, you know, S-E-X?”

Yes. He spelt it out. I just looked at him.

For the sake of my family, who read this blog religiously, I won’t bother going into details about my sex life. However I did inform the doctor that I can still feel my scar at times and wondered if that was normal? Instead of answering me, he and his registrar decided to have a look at my vagina. Because enough people haven’t already seen it. They lifted the sheet and the two men had a conversation over my lady bits, getting a nice good look. “Oh it is still quite granulated, isn’t it?” (That’s doctor speak for not fully healed yet.) “When was this done? 6, 8 weeks ago?”

Um seriously? Why doesn’t the doctor know when this happened? This is a classic case of doctors not reading notes before seeing their patients! And the patient is required to repeat themselves over and over, because nobody reads anything that anyone else wrote. This is one of my main gripes as a nurse and now also as a patient. But anyway, I digress.

“No, it has been about 15 weeks.” I replied.

“Oh, you definitely need someone to take another look at it. I’ll refer you back to the hospital.” Wonderful. My vagina is a spectacle.

He then proceeded to say “Don’t worry, I think it will heal. You can keep having sex. Just use lots of lube. Like LOTS of lube. You need to just fill it with lube. So much lube that your husband can’t even feel it.” He then chuckled as he pulled the sheet back down, covering me up and then proceeded to PAT ME ON THE HEAD and said “All the best, Mrs Quilty” and left.

Now I didn’t have a mirror, but I’m pretty sure my face looked something like this.

IMG_1853

I looked back at my son who giggled at me and I was decidedly glad that he couldn’t understand the conversation that had just taken place. Maybe I won’t tell this story at his 21st. Don’t need to really, it’s on the internet forever. Sorry son.

Anyway, the reason I am sharing this story is because I bet a number of new mothers and mothers-to-be don’t ever think about this stuff until it’s too late. Case in point, ME. So I just want to normalise the things that nobody ever talks about because of embarrassment or whatever. So women who tear! You are not alone. Broken vaginas unite. And the moral of the story? DO YOUR PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES! Because if I hadn’t, then I may not be able to boast so loudly about my continence after giving birth. Hallelujah for bladder control.