Thursday, 27 October 2016

Beauty And The Breast

Breastfeeding is beautiful. But that doesn't necessarily mean it always looks beautiful. I appreciate the gorgeous photos of women breastfeeding, modelled in an attempt to normalise the natural way of feeding our children, but seriously, that's just NOT what breastfeeding looks like. Unless you are particularly blessed, which undoubtedly some of you are. The rest of us however, aren't so lucky. The beauty of breastfeeding does not have to be portrayed by half naked, perfectly posed filtered shots. It's beauty comes from the act itself, not the way we look when performing that act.
There's beauty hidden within the rawness and vulnerability of sitting upright at 3am, with blurry eyes and disheveled hair, looking down at your feeding baby as they curl their tiny cold hands round your finger. Beauty lives in the eye rolling awkwardness of your baby needing to feed at the exact moment you sit down to eat, resulting in you eating one handed and spilling crumbs on your baby's head.
Beauty can be seen in the mum who sits with cabbage leaves stuffed down her bra, googling further tips to relieve tender breasts, with determination on her face to keep going, even though at the minute she has never felt more like giving up.
As wonderful as some of the trending breastfeeding photos are, they don't always portray the reality of breastfeeding, and the various relationships and journey each woman and child takes.
It's important that breastfeeding in its entirety is illustrated, in all its beauty. All of its gloriously awkward and inconvenient beauty.
Women do not sit naked, in a graceful position, with perfect hair and size 6 bodies, breastfeeding. If we do happen to be naked, it's more than likely we've been dragged out of the shower, or were halfway through getting dressed when our baby has cried to be fed. Our bodies are rarely size 6 considering we've just spent the past 9 months being pregnant, and no one with a new baby has perfect hair. Ok?
Instead of donning tattoos like so many of the breastfeeding models that are popular of late, we are more likely to be in possession of stretch marks; and rather than full, pert breasts, chances are they are lopsided, with the free breast leaking and slowly making a damp patch on our Primark bought pyjama top.
So yes, lets share beautiful imagery. Let's celebrate feeding our children in the most natural and wonderful way. Let's support each other as women and mothers and continue to freeze frame these moments in our children's life that will soon become a distant memory.
But let's share reality.
I don't breastfeed to follow a fashion, or because I'm influenced by the latest pin up mum model. I breastfeed to nourish my child, to provide warmth and security, and because it's who I am. And you don't get much more beautiful than that.

Monday, 26 September 2016

35 Week Scan

So I went for a 35 week scan yesterday. A routine thing as I'm high risk due to my first child being underweight and a bunch of other problems in my pregnancy.

Expecting the usual "yes everything is ok blah blah blah" I was quite shocked to hear that my waters surrounding the baby have just decided to disappear. There has been no gushing, no trickling sensations. I've observed a few 'damp patches' but doesn't every woman in pregnancy? 

I sat waiting for the registrar to come and talk to me and literally shit a brick when she told me she was going to examine me and if I was showing signs of leaking then she would admit me to have the baby delivered immediately. 

And then the universe remembered this was me.

And there was no way that such a drama could go down without me also having to suffer deep humiliation and hilarity at the same time.

I lay on the bed, knickers down, with a blanket over my ghost white legs to protect my dignity. Cursing myself for ever writing A Hairy Situation , as ever since my partner has refused to assist me down there and I am now sporting...well, I don't know what I'm sporting as it's impossible to see, but I doubt it's pleasant. 

As I lay there, panicking about the state of my vagina I picked up a horrific whiff in the air.

My feet!

It was a hot day. I was wearing pumps with no socks and had walked the school run that morning. Those pumps now sat neatly at the side of the bed, letting off the most offensive smell known to man.

"Erm...I'm really sorry but I've had to take my shoes off and my feet really smell!"

I had to warn them! And when I say 'them' I mean the registrar, the nursing assistant who was helping her, and some random woman who had entered the room, failed to introduce herself, but had decided to stick around and give me sympathetic smiles. 

They all glanced in my direction but none of them seemed to be perturbed by the foot confession. They were too busy muttering and whispering amongst themselves. 

"This is why we usually send them to MAU"

"Do you have one on your phone?"

I lay there, craning my neck to see what the commotion was about. 

It appeared that they had the equipment to perform the examination, but the light was too bright. They were in need of a small torch. And of course that small torch was going to come in the form of the nursing assistants iPhone! 

I found it hard to lie there, legs akimbo as a nursing assistant held an iPhone in between my legs and the registrar prodded and poked me. 

"Just make sure your finger doesn't slip and you don't take a picture by accident!" I shouted. 

"I don't think my vagina is in a selfie mood today"

God bless the NHS! 

Luckily there were no signs of leaking at the time (except for everybody's eyes from the stench of my feet) and I was booked in for a scan the following week to monitor the situation and to look at possible induction.

This is particularly the reason why when the health visitor asked if "Mum had a birth plan in place" Mum stated that no she didn't. 

I have a perfect birth in my head. A natural birth (ideally in water) on the midwife led unit with no pain relief. From the offset its been clear that the likelihood of that happening is slim. Therefore I'll skip the birth plan and take my labour the way it comes. 

On a serious note, because I've found myself a bit pissy when discussing my current situation with people and they've felt the need to have an opinion; some women will get their perfect birth. It will go exactly as planned. Some won't. And that's fine too. People seem to have an opinion on your birth the way they will have an opinion on every other fucking thing you do as a parent. From feeding, to sleeping, to toilet training. But it's MY birth. I own it. And in the end, what will happen will happen. 

Saturday, 17 September 2016

How To Be A Health Visitor.

When I received a letter from the health visiting team saying they were coming to visit, I'm not going to lie, I had a semi nervous breakdown.
It seems whenever  my children are involved I immediately seize up and think that every professional is judging me and making notes on how inadequate I am as a mother. I just can't help it.
I spent the day before she arrived throwing paint at my lounge walls, spraying bleach over everything, and sobbing that no one lifts a finger in this god damn bastard house!!!
But it turns out there was no need to worry. Because my health visitor is clearly insane. And as I sat  opposite her plastic smile, as she balanced on my wonky couch that is being held up with two books, I found my mind wandering as to whether health visitors had to go through specific role plays to determine whether they had the correct patronising nature that is clearly needed for the job. And throughout said role plays do they have to touch on a list of requirements that I imagine include the following;

1. NEVER address someone in the first person. Always the third.
"And how is Mum feeling?"
"Does Mum have a birth plan in place?"
"Is Dad looking forward to the arrival of baby?"

It's important to make 'Mum' feel as though she no longer has a name or an identity, in fact she is so insignificant as her former self that she is now spoken to as though she were not even in the room. Pair this with a soft spoken voice and a condescending smirk.

2. Use strange questions to trip Mum up. I particularly enjoyed the ones I was asked at my recent visit.

"What does baby look like?"

Erm.....I'm not...sure? She hasn't come out yet?

"Yes but how does mum imagine she'll look?"

Like her brother? I don't know.

“Yes but does she have hair?”

I'm not sure how to answer this question

"Ok, moving on! What is  baby like?"

Small? Squidgy? A baby? What's the deal here? Are mums now required to already know their child's facial features and personality prior to birth?

"Yes, but when Mum and Dad talk about Baby, what do they imagine her to be like?"

I'm not sure, we haven't really talked about it. I don't think it's sunk in for 'Dad' yet that we're having another baby!

Which brings me to the next point

3. Be deadly serious about every word that is spoken by Mum.

 *shakes head sympathetically*

“It's really important that Dad is involved in the pregnancy as much as possible. You might want to think about having these conversations with Dad. Perhaps Mum and Dad could sit on the sofa together whilst touching Mums tummy and discuss the questions we've just been over?”

Or… could just kill me .

4. Just as you have driven Mum to the depths of despair and have her at her most vulnerable, you need to strike while the iron is hot

"Does mum feel low, depressed or have any feelings that her life is pointless or worthless?"

Well, I  didn't!!!......however! Now you mention it!!