A Type of Mum Culture We Need to Say Goodbye to

motherhood, Uncategorized

On my mat leave, I was never the mum who went to baby clubs. I was terrified of them, in fact. Baby changing and feeding rooms were panic inducing for me and soft play completely off limits unless Rob or good friends were by my side. But, why?

The above statement seems dramatic, but it’s totally necessary. You see, there is a mum culture that I have had enough of and want no part in. It’s the school gate gossip, cliquey, judgemental groups. The people who cast their opinions upon you after just a glance. The ones who want to fit you into a pigeon hole, a niche, and want you to stay there.

My first year of motherhood was an unexpected one. It bought with it so much joy, but it was a massive learning curve for me when it came to other mothers and the attitudes of other people. Taken aback from my experiences, I am also so grateful at what it taught me.

I went to a baby group at my local library when Ted was a few months old. Previous to that, I’d never really socialised with mums I didn’t already know. It was daunting and I spent the night before awake and worrying about the finer details- when I’d need to leave the house, how long it’d take for me to get there, how early I’d need to be, whether I needed to set an alarm, what I should wear.

Waking up the next morning, I put on my absolute go-to outfit. A checked mini skirt and a roll neck. I sat and did my make-up on the sofa while Ted was feeding, drank my coffee, and felt excited at who I might meet or who I might connect with. I always remember my mum saying to me beforehand that even though baby classes weren’t my thing and didn’t appeal to me (I’m a massive introvert and find it hard to trust people) that there would be someone there that felt the exact same way as me. That was all the reassurance I needed.

I arrived. Mums gathered in familiar groups. I said hello to each group as I walked in. A few reluctantly said hello back. I smiled. A few smiled back half smiles, the others ignored me. I tried hard to mingle, complimenting other mums. For example, one mum was tandem feeding on a soft play bench and I told her how amazing she was doing. She smiled and I felt safe. I sat next to her and fed Ted too.

Five minutes later, another mum came over, followed by two more. They were friends with this lady, and she introduced me to them.

No hello. No ‘nice to meet you.’ Just, simply:

“You’re a little overdressed for a baby class.’

Silence. I said nothing. I felt weak. I carried on feeding Ted and looked to the floor.

Ten minutes later:

‘How did you have that much time to get ready?’

I replied explaining that I’d been awake very early and that I did my make up while feeding my son.

‘I don’t think this is really your sort of place is it?’

There was an expectation that now that I’m a mum, I should have a messy mum bun and be wearing a hoody, jeans and trainers with sick down the front, minimal make-up, if any at all. Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally okay to be that mum too. I am that mum on some days. But today is made an effort because I was nervous and because that’s how I felt most comfortable meeting new people. The point is it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter.

I distinctly remember at that moment, looking around the room at the variety of faces staring back at me, and not understanding why anyone would be someone who was ‘different’ or didn’t belong there. It was a room full of diverse, beautiful women, all feeding their babies in different ways, all dressed differently too, and I’d never felt so secluded and singled out.

Not long after I was sat at the park where I was told by another mother that I was disgusting for breastfeeding.

And again, not long after that I was sat in the feeding room in Mothercare and a woman told me that I needed to leave because breastfeeding was wrong. Yep. In an actual FEEDING room.

I was then unfortunately put in another situation with a group of women where I overheard them on numerous occasions talking about me. One of their children even said to them in front of me once ‘look who is here mum! It’s her! Shush!’ I apparently believed I was ‘better than them’ and one of them even made comments about Ted’s behaviour (he was just over 1 at the time) when in reality they’d never spoken to me properly, knew nothing about me and were judging me based on perception. Luckily I don’t have to see those people anymore, and I’m also really lucky to have had a good friend who was also involved with this group of women and her and her partner helped me massively with this situation. Never having to see that group again is an absolute blessing.

Firstly, let’s remember that we are all completely different people, with totally different priorities, interests, agendas, opinions, thoughts, the lot! Being different is what makes the world what it is.

Secondly, when was it okay to make other people feel like this anyway?

My perspective on the world changed for a while after all of this. I focused on doing the exact opposite of what others made me feel. No matter how bad someone made me feel, or makes me feel, I won’t stop treating them with kindness. More often than not, people are behaving in that way because they are feeling bad. More often than not, this is a defence mechanism and your kindness with shock them. Be the bigger person and pretend you’re not bothered, even if like me at the time, you really are. The world is much bigger than the pettiness we are forced into. Cry about what has happened. Complain to your friends. And then move on.

There’s a competitive nature to all of this that I am just not a fan of, and it’s something I’ll talk about in a future blog. When mums work together, wonderful things happen. Woman power is like a super power, and oh my god can we change the world when that force is combined rather than a rivalry. Please please please, when you see that awkward new mum forcing a smile and holding her newborn at your next baby class, clearly looking for friendship and a good chat, ask her how she is. Ask her if she wants to sit with you and find out all about her. Ask her if she wants to get coffee afterwards. Be kind and love each other, because being a mumma is tough enough as it is and tearing each other down is not okay on any level.

A Week in the Wardrobe of Ted

baby, Baby Style

I get asked a lot of questions about where I find Ted’s clothes, and often people assume I spend a fortune on him. Truth is, I love a good bargain, and almost always refuse to buy anything unless it’s reduced or in the sale. Ted is now 7 months, but wearing 9-12 month clothes because he has long legs, so I have no other choice but buying cheap as he is whizzing through sizes. Cheap, however, does not mean poor quality.

Now it is no secret that I am obsessed with clothes. When I found out I was having a boy, people commented on how much fun I’d have dressing a little girl, but having a boy can be just as exciting, although the clothes are usually limited in style and colours. I do dream of the days of pink and gingham and ribbons, but until then tracksuits and trainers will do! Have a look below at a weeks worth of Ted’s outfits:

Thursday

This little red tracksuit we have had since Ted was about 2 months old and he has just grown out of it. It makes me so sad that he won’t wear it again, but we have definitely had our money’s worth. It always looks great with a white or grey t-shirt underneath and is easy to layer. This grey and red striped top came with a 3 pack of London themed tees from Mothercare. Ted has outgrown his pram shoes now, so unless I can 12-18 month pram shoes, he has to wear proper shoes. I’ve only managed to find that size in Next and Mothercare, but I’m not complaining and neither is Ted about wearing these Adidas Superstars! Sporty little ensemble, perfect for fun at the park with his cousin.

Friday


Adidas again today! There is still lots of growth in this one, which I’m really happy about. I love Ted in grey and blue, so loved this colour combo. This tracksuit is much comfier than the red one for him, so ideal whilst learning how to crawl. I’m always on the lookout for cheap Nike and Adidas clothes for Ted, as Rob really likes him in them too as they are some of his favourite brands. These trainers were from Mothercare and reduced to £2 in the sale. I love Ted in anything dinosaur, and love that these are jazzed up at the back to look like a mini Stegosaurus! This hat was a Debenhams bargain costing £3 in the sale and I am absolutely obsessed with him in it. Naturally, his name being Ted, anything bear related I love.

Saturday

Saturdays are normally a busy day for us, juggling friends, family and cleaning. This Mantaray romper is so easy to chuck on but makes Ted look so grown up, it’s scary! This was another Debenhams bargain at £6. The tones look great on him and paired up with these smart grey desert boots (that Ted mainly likes to undo the laces of and chew) and fox hat creates a good winter to spring wardrobe transition whilst the weather is still baffling all of us.

Sunday

Sunday’s are chill day for us in the Olding household. Rob plays football on a sunday and if we dont watch him play then we stay at home and tidy and play. This two piece set was from Tesco and was £10. It fits his chunky little legs perfectly but is a nightmare colour. I’ve spent far too much time trying to get stains out of it so will definitely be avoiding this colour in future.

Monday

As it is the Easter holidays, we thought we would make the most of it by doing something fun and different with Ted. We took him to the Natural History Museum so that only means one thing… dinosaurs! This dinosaur tracksuit was from Jojo Maman Bebe and the hoody is reversible which is super handy. Underneath he just wears a plain coloured long sleeved top and this one was from Next as part of a 5 pack.

Tuesday

Tuesday was another day at home as we have so much decorating to do. Ted was happy and comfy in this hooded Nike romper. He moves about in it easily and I have to say, I am incredibly jealous of this outfit!

Wednesday

Today we were out for lunch, and Ted premiered his Vans! These Vans were a gift and still far too big but they’ll fit perfectly in a few months time when he’s attempting walking and maybe up and toddling about. This little outfit is one of my absolute favourites and was only £6. It is so cute and quirky and incredibly British of course! His jumper was hand knitted by my mum. He has a lot of knitted jumpers but this remains my favourite because of the lovely bright colours. With the weather being all over the place I am so grateful for this gillet and want to buy it in every possible size!

Labour Stories: Kayleigh and Harry

Labour Stories, Mum, Uncategorized

Written By Kayleigh Williams

Labour is something every pregnant woman goes through, and whether it’s a c-section or natural, we all have different memories of it each time. I refused to listen to anyone’s labour stories purely because deep down I didn’t want to face the fact I was going to be ruined by this bundle of cuteness. I had my heart set on a calming water birth followed by returning home with Harry within the hour. I was determined that’s what was going to happen and although I had people telling me:

“You’d be surprised”

“It doesn’t always work out like that”

I really wish I’d listened to everyone because oh boy, labour is HARSH, on a whole different level of pain. 

Harry was due on the 20th August 2018, but made an appearance on the 24th of August 2018. I envied everyone I knew who had a baby within those 4 days because I prayed it was me everyday, as I waddled through town with this, huge space hopper attached to me, everyone looking at me in the 33 degree heat asking me how I’m coping and how they’re not jealous of me. Oh, I hated peoples opinions towards the end, it was not something I wanted to sit down with a cup of tea and actually enjoy listening to. I knew I was in pain, I knew my bump was above average and no I wasn’t coping. Those 4 days felt like 4 weeks. 

I was having my sweep done on the 23rd of August and my midwife asked me if I was in any pain or so, and I said no- why? She told me I was already 6cm and listen to this, I didn’t feel a thing. I felt completely normal, uncomfortable yes, but no pain down there. She told me to get down to the hospital because if my waters go, I’m going to be having this baby on my bed and I wasn’t ready for that kind of birth. I had to head down to the hospital so off me and Owen went, excited we were going to meet our baby. Much to our disappointment we spent 5 hours in hospital waiting and waiting. No pain, no signs of labour at all so we were sent home. By this point I was frustrated because my whole day had been wasted all for nothing. 

It was around 1am when what I thought was my waters, went. I got out of bed and let everyone know it’s time for me to go. I started having tiny pains and each time they got worse. Owen drove me to the hospital and that was probably the worst drive I had ever been on. I was in SO much pain, almost unbearable at times but I knew it was going to be okay. The hospital got everything ready for me. My waters hadn’t actually broken, the midwife had to brake them for me and oh my goodness, it went everywhere. Harry had pooped inside of me so it was a case of getting me into the room and getting this baby out of me. The pain was so bad at this point and I had to reach for the gas and air as I was panicking and needed to calm myself down. Owen was by my side supporting me, letting me know everything was going to be okay. I started to become a little drowsy from all of the gas and air so I began to lose concentration of what was going on around me. The midwife told us we were losing Harry, he’s getting stressed and he needs to come out now. In came I reckon about 15 doctors and nurses, who helped take me down to theatre as this was then classed as an emergency so theatre was needed. Owen was left in a room all by himself for around 20 minutes bless him. I don’t remember this at all but I’m guessing he felt scared and worried for us all. 

In theatre I was given an epidural as the pain was getting so unbearable I was crying, I physically could not move anywhere. Harry’s heartbeat was slowing down, so I had to be cut twice down below, and Harry was given forceps and ventouse as he was almost stuck inside of me. By this point I didn’t feel a thing, i couldn’t even feel my toes let alone the pain. Pushing whilst not feeling a thing was so difficult. Harry then came at 4:43am on the 24th August. My whole world changed from that moment and it was the best moments of my life. I’d just been through the most traumatic time of my life but all that mattered was Harry in my arms and Owen right next to me. 

I was not expecting what I had in store for my labour. It was truly the worst experience my body has ever been put through. I regret not educating myself a bit more with it. The only positive thing from it was Harry. My little bundle of joy. 

What Being A Mum Means To Me: Alice

Mum, Uncategorized, What Being A Mum Means To Us

From an early age, I had the desire to be a Mum. I fantasised about falling in love and being married and building a dream life. Whether it be down to overwatching of Disney films or a natural, animal instinct, I knew that having a family of my own was what was meant for me. I’ve always loved babies and children, but nothing prepared me for the level of love that you feel when you have your own.

When I discovered I was pregnant I was totally shocked. It was unexpected and I was unprepared, but there was something so magical about seeing that little heartbeat for the first time, and from that moment onwards things seemed to fall into place. I got engaged and bought a flat with the person I loved. Even though he came earlier in my life than I expected, Ted has been what I needed at just the right time. I was feeling lost about my place in the world, where I was going and what I was doing, and being a mum has helped me refocus on my goals.

For me, being a mum is about learning to love in a brand new way. It cannot be compared to any other sort of love. It’s both unconditional and indescribable. I look at him and I can’t believe that I created this little ball of energy and curiosity who is so clever and strong with the most charming personality already and a smile that is going to break hearts. How could he possibly be mine?

I love that I can share my passions with a mini me. I dream of the day we can write stories together and have Marvel movie marathons and read Harry Potter until we fall asleep. But most importantly, I can’t wait to see what he enjoys and what his passions blossom to be. I find myself full of wonder and what-ifs. Is he going to be good at football? What subject is going to be his strongest at school? Will he go to university? Will he have a family of his own one day?

However, the anticipation of the future does not stop me from enjoying each and every moment with him. Putting my phone down, turning the TV off and singing to him, reading to him, playing with him, and listening to him giggle and look up at me with his big gummy smile is the reassurance I always need to know that maybe, just maybe, I am doing a fantastic job.

Being a mum has been full a sacrifice for me also. Breastfeeding has meant I have had to miss out on nights out and time with my friends. I can’t afford to be selfish anymore, spending money on holidays and endless amounts of clothes. I can’t just go out and do what I want. But I was always prepared for that sacrifice, and as Ted is getting older I am getting more and more of a break, and a little bit of freedom and ‘me’ back. What is very poignant is that whenever I’m not with Ted, he is all I think about still.

However, motherhood has also opened up new opportunities for me. It’s got my creative juices flowing and meant I’ve finally committed to something I love- writing. Without being a mum, this blog would never have come to be. It’s also meant I’ve made new friends, and become closer to my old friends, who respect me as a mother and what I have achieved.

Being Ted’s mum is a new chapter to the book of me- a new part of my identity. I’m never going to be a conventional, stereotypical mum. You won’t find me baking or attending sensory classes, but I will always be there when Ted needs a cuddle. When he needs feeding. When he needs love. When he just needs his mummy. Being a mum has made me so much more confident as a person. It’s helped me embrace who I am and also made me realise I don’t care if others don’t like that person. Yes, I can be shy and a bit awkward. Yes, most the time I am in my very own Wonderland. Does that matter to Ted? No. He looks at me like I am the most wonderful person in the world. That little look of love is the drive behind my every choice and motivation and I am grateful that motherhood has been so kind to me so far.

Disney Baby Style

baby, Baby Style

Written by April Hill

Disney is one of our favourite things, and Disney baby clothes is probably my favourite thing right now. I can’t resist a cute outfit.

I wanted to share some of my best picks for shops where we find the ultimate – and affordable – Disney Style for a baby.

George at Asda

Asda is most likely my favourite and it’s where a lot of our clothes are from! You can’t fault it for quality or price. There’s a range of characters and, for the girls, the tutus are just lovely.


Primark

My closest primark isn’t very big and doesn’t stock as much, so when I get the chance to go to our biggest local one I have a good haul.

I’ve walked around and seen things in the boy section that can be totally gender neutral, so it’s always worth a look around there even if you have a girl.

Matalan

I never really thought of Matalan to begin with but was I wrong not to consider them. I just love Dumbo and my favourite outfits have come from their range, which includes PJs, Vest & Bottoms with matching hat, blankets, muslins and comforters. I’m going to be so sad when she grows out of it all – which won’t be long.

Shop Disney

You can’t not think about browsing on ShopDisney UK, although you are looking at a bit more in price. Occasionally they send out some discounts so take advantage. Quality and sweetness though you can’t fault them. I invested in some of their new Winnie The Pooh pieces and they are adorable.

I’m so bad for buying clothes. It used to be for myself but now it’s changed to my daughter. A handy tip though is if you see something you like then go for the next size up and you’ll have something to grow in to. It’s worth the wait once they can finally start wearing it.

For more cute outfits and updates from April, please check out @babybelleandmum or @aprilswifelife on Instagram.

A Mother’s Judgement

Mum

Written By Alice King

I don’t think any of us will ever deny that motherhood, although full of exciting firsts and pride, is also the most difficult of times. What mothers can do without, whether post-pregnancy in a stitched-up, heeling body, walking into your first baby class after it taking you weeks to pluck up the courage to even leave the house and go, or on that emotional first day of school, hugging your little person for that bit too long, is judgement. That awful ‘j’ word. Just thinking about prying eyes (and the thoughts that accompany them) of others feels me with dread and anxiety. Unfortunately, as human beings we expect judgement throughout life, but nothing hurts more than being told how you parent is ‘wrong.’

Where our loved ones are concerned, we easily get our backs up and want to fight for our beliefs. I’ve been judged for breastfeeding, feeding past 6 months, weaning too early, for having a baby that wakes throughout the night, for wanting to go back to work, for wanting more ‘me time,’ and even sly and passive aggressive Facebook statuses about how boring writing a mummy blog is…yawn…

However, I’m also not fully sold on the ‘mum knows best’ mantra either. My belief will always be that a mum has a choice, and as long as a mum is informed and educated in those decisions (that won’t cause harm to their child) that really that is what matters.

You see motherhood is really a lifetime of winging it. No one is an expert. You birth your little bundle and then that’s it. There is minimal support once you are shipped off to the postnatal ward where you are left to fend for yourself amongst the rest of the clueless first time mums. Even the second, third, even fourth time mums (maybe more) are in a daze, eyes cautiously wandering the room in the hope that a first time mum doesn’t ask them how it’s done.

In the midst of the confusion that tiredness brings, I’m unsure how anyone can not respect another mother. Okay, if they are neglecting their child or committing some hideous crimes then I get it, but that is a very, very small percentage of women. My passion is for the support we can offer each other, rather than the criticism. Sometimes I wonder how people have even got the time to put their energy into commenting on others parenting rather than focusing on their own. Without the support of other mums, I wouldn’t be half the mum I am now. Whether it be all the time that mine and my partner’s families put in to helping me in those first few weeks, or simply friends asking if I want to go for coffee, just so I can have a rant, there is something beautiful about women helping women rather than standing back and gossiping. Women are powerful creatures and we are even stronger when we stand together.

Labour Stories: Meg and Delilah Rose

Labour Stories, Mum, Uncategorized

Written by Meg Brooks

It was the day before my due date- 23th Feb. I spent this day jogging around my house and eating a super spicy curry for my tea. Little did I know these theories would actually work!! (or was it just a coincidence?)

At around 8pm, me and my partner got into bed all comfy, stuck a film on and tried to settle down for the night. I had been getting slight pains in my tummy for hours before this but I didn’t think anything of it as it was very very mild. However, when I was lying in bed they seemed to get worse and worse, so I began to time them. They started off being 20 minutes apart, to 10 minutes apart!

I rang my mum panicking asking for her opinion. She told me to stay calm and ring the midwives soon if they get worse. I was in deep pain now. I knew it was contractions! Suddenly, I felt a weird feeling down below, like if I moved my legs then I would wee myself. So I sat up hoping to go to the loo, and then it happened. My waters broke all over my bed! It felt like I just weed myself. I rushed to the toilet, got myself sorted, and I tried to remain pretty calm until I looked up and saw my partner running round like a mad man… he was worse than me! 

Anyway, we met my mum along her road and picked her up (she was that excited she forgot to bring the car seat which was at her house), and we got to the hospital. Every bump on the road was awful with contractions. Getting into the hospital was a bit of a blur really. I was that shook and in that much pain. The midwife examined me and told me I was 4cm already.

I remember being in my labour room with my mum and boyfriend, and I was bouncing on the medicine ball while my midwife was filling up the bath for a water birth! I hoped the pool would ease some pain, as I was starting to think I couldn’t do it anymore. I tried some gas and air, but I didn’t like it as it made me feel a bit sick. The word epidural popped into my head, but when I told my midwife she said I was already far too gone and she could tell it was going to be quite a quick labour so I couldn’t have one! Gutted.

Every contraction got worse, being 3 minutes apart each time. Apparently at one point I had my mum in a headlock- poor woman. The pool took hours to fill up. I couldn’t bare this being on no pain relief anymore! Isn’t it crazy when you’re scared and in pain, you suddenly turn into a little child again? I remember just wanting my mum, shouting ‘Mum! Mum!’ My poor partner probably felt I didn’t need him there. I was only 20 at the time, so I was only a little baby myself.

After a little while my birthing pool was ready. I was so relieved! I sat in it… and within a few seconds I felt a bit better. The pressure of the water really helps! I recommend it to any of you pregnant mummys.

Next I had an awful contraction, and suddenly felt like I was going to poo. I shouted ‘OH NO IM GOING TO POO IM GOING TO POO!’. Funny looking back, but at the time I was so scared I was going to take a dump in the pool. The midwife checked the babies heart after my contraction, and her face dropped. She said ‘you need to get out of the pool now. You need to stay calm but be really quick’. The babies heart rate had dropped suddenly. I was so scared. I turned really brave and toughened up and got out of the pool, walked over to the bed, almost slipped on the wet floor, and laid down. Gutted I was only in the pool for 2 minutes!

On my next contraction the midwife said I needed to push. It was the worst pain ever. The contractions were so bad now, at their peak. I was screaming “I can’t do it!!! I really can’t do it” but everyone was so supportive telling me I can do it and I’m nearly there.

After 20 minutes of pushing, out popped her head. The midwife told me she had loads of black hair, which made me smile and feel excited… my baby girl was almost out! I did one more big push and out popped her slippery little body. I was so relieved and shocked and amazed. She was put on my chest, slightly crying, but starting to settle. She was so beautiful, thick black hair, little intense eyes, a teeny button nose and long nails. From that moment on my life changed. I was a young mum with a new meaning in life, a new responsibility. She came and changed my world for the better and we all love her dearly. I would go through all that pain all over again for her!

Gender Reveal Reflection

gender reveal, Mum, pregnancy, Uncategorized

This week on my Facebook memories, up popped a little reminder that last March, we discovered the gender of my little one. It is bizarre to think that little over a year ago I was still fantasizing about what the identity of my baby would be, and here I am sat with a 7 month old little boy napping on me.

I looked back at a blog I wrote at the time where I expressed my thoughts on gender and the importance, or maybe lack of, when it came to my child. The poignancy of his gender really came down to selfishness- I wanted to know what to picture when imagining my family. I wanted to know whether I was going to be running around with a little Ted or alternatively, a little Daisy (the girls name we had picked out ready).

Often I wonder whether when I have my next child (note the when- not if!) that I’d want to find out. Is that still important to me? Honestly, I would do it every time. I remember describing myself as a chaotic woman camouflaged as an organised one, and as that person I loved preparing for ‘Ted.’ Of course, having a ‘Daisy’ would be ideal… the creation of a perfect nuclear family. However, I also have a lot of boys clothes that could do with being worn again!

Then Im torn. I think, does it actually matter? I’ll be running around fighting with lightsabers and having wizard duels, curling up on winter weekends for Marvel movie marathons (also super thrilled that Disney’s Captain Marvel costume is uni-sex by the way) and that is regardless of who my next little one might be, and who Ted may become. Maybe he will be far too cool for all the nerdy things that me and his dad are interested in.

To quote myself a year ago:

What is important is how we raise our children. Whether male or female, I want Little Olding to grow up with a strong set of morals and to make his/her own choices. Both should learn the importance of love and kindness, respecting everyone regardless of age, race and sexuality and how to be altruistic. How they identify and the interests they choose are down to their own self-awareness and independence. Children should be raised the same, regardless of their gender, and that it what is important.

sm

Becoming a Disabled Mum

disabled mum, Mum, Uncategorized

Written by Charlotte Jones

I hadn’t been with my boyfriend long before I found out I was pregnant, but we were both so happy about it. My pregnancy was amazing. I loved it. I worked out 6 times a week- but I was petrified of not knowing what was pregnancy weight and what was extra weight. It turned out once my son was born my stomach went flat. I did have lots of extra skin, though I described it as a kangaroo pouch, but nothing high waisted leggings wouldn’t hide.

I loved being a mum but I was very protective. I wouldn’t let anyone hold him. He was mine- all mine. After 6 months I went back to work, but again I loved it. I loved working, being a mum and a housewife. It was the best feeling in the world.

When my son was 15 months, I woke up one morning and couldn’t move. I could talk but it made no sense. I was rushed to hospital. It turned out I had a major stroke and was very lucky to be alive. I was told I’d never walk again. I don’t remember much from hospital, except how scared my little boy was of his mum. It was awful. It made me feel so down and like my life was spiralling out of my control. After 3 months I was allowed home and I was so excited, but part of me was in complete denial. I thought I’d get home and everything will be back to normal, but it wasn’t- I could barely walk, my son was still afraid of me and I couldn’t change him, bath him, make his bottles, or even play with him. It caused my depression to become worse. I felt worthless. I thought I’d be better off dead than be such a burden on my boyfriend and the kids. It was slowly breaking me.

I needed help with everything and not being able to be a proper mum was so hard, but I persevered and my life started to come together. It took 2 years, but I was starting to feel a bit more of a mum. I can finally take my son out on my own. I don’t have him very often as I struggle to look after him. It completely exhausts me. I know being a parent is hard work, but this feels like I can’t even move.

My son is now 3 and he’s amazing. He accepts me as I am. It doesn’t bother him that I’m disabled. I feel more guilt than anything, as there are lots of things can’t do with him, so we make the most of little things. We walk to the park and collect leaves. We play pooh sticks over the bridges we come across. At the park I find other mums are helpful and they will lift him into a swing for me and I can then push him. When we go out he walks right next to my chair. He knows not to walk behind me as it worries me that someone might grab him. At home I can now out a pull up on him for bed-luckily potty training him was very easy. I am starting to get him dressed but I struggle doing it. I will get there. It will just take some time.

He doesn’t understand why I have two arms but only one works. I am learning to pick him up for cuddles and I am so excited to be able to. I wish I could hold him, squeeze him, but I can’t. Being how I am breaks my heart and I feel so bad for him, but the older he gets the easier it will become.

Dad Interviews: Rob

Dad Interviews, Mum

Written by Alice King

When thinking about this blog and all I wanted it to be, I was incredibly focused on everything ‘mum.’ What does it mean to be a mother? How does it feel being a mother? What do mothers need more support with? I started to think about these questions a bit more deeply, and it dawned on me… I wouldn’t be half the mum I am if it wasn’t for the support that I was given by my partner. His life has changed too. Very differently to mine, also. But he has to wake up throughout the night. He has to leave his family behind to go to work everyday.What does it mean to be a father? How does it feel being a father? What do fathers need more support with?

I felt this was a perfect opportunity to explore a ‘father’ in his new role, with his new title.

One evening we put Ted to bed and I sat down with Rob for a very unexpectedly emotional half an hour- him stretched out on the sofa, me cross-legged on the floor, tapping away at my keyboard, observing his every expression trying to guess his every answer. At times I felt like a therapist, rather than his other half. However, the whole process was insightful. There were things I’d never thought about asking him before that just spilled from my brain out my mouth in the candid flip from partner to writer. Thank you for your sincerity, honesty and warmth throughout.

How did you feel when you found out you were going to be a dad?

I think because it was so big I didn’t believe it was real, and I didn’t believe it was real until we saw him for the first time.

How did you feel when you did see him?

It was probably the best moment of my life at that point. And then immediately scared because it was so important.

And how did you deal with me being pregnant as a whole? Was it weird watching my body change knowing that was your son in there?

Again, it only really felt properly real when we had the scans or when I felt him kick. But then as those things got more and more regular it started to become more real. Dealing with you when you were pregnant was a challenge because everything changed so quickly and you went from being really independent to being more dependant on me. How you changed physically wasn’t an issue at all.

How did you feel when we had the gender scan… were you expecting a boy, a girl?

Relieved. 1, because I wanted the Olding surname to continue because it’s the best surname out there… and 2, whenever I’d imagined myself as a dad it was always with a two year old boy, like the picture I had was always me and a small me wearing Adidas tracksuits playing football, so it was nice that that image was going to be true. Everyone told me we were having a girl and I think I believed it was true, but deep down I always wanted to have a boy first.

Me too, I wanted a boy! What about when it came to naming him?

I honestly thought I wasn’t going to be given a say and that you had an idea and that would be it, as I originally wanted Sam and you didn’t want that so I didn’t have a choice. I thought it was going to be Teddy and that was final and after we said no to Bobby because people would shorten it to Bob that ruined it for me. It was nice to compromise with Ted because I always wanted a 3 letter name. It was nice giving him a name before he was born… As we are talking it’s weird thinking the kicks we were feeling are what I’m looking at on the monitor screen!

Okay let’s get to the important bit, the birth… was it what you expected?

I had no idea what to expect. I don’t know if I purposely didn’t think about it, but I didn’t- I kind of just went with the flow.

How did you feel at the birth? Tell me your mid labour emotion?

As amazing as it was horrific. I knew the end goal was worth it but seeing you go through that pain wasn’t great, and knowing that me or your mum couldn’t do anything to help you. I was quite surprised you hadn’t shouted at me yet. I was quite impressed with how you were dealing with it, like you weren’t being dramatic or anything you were just getting on with it, like I would definitely be screaming in pain and a mess but you just kept yourself focused on it, so I was impressed. We weren’t really making any progress so I was starting to worry but then everything just started happening and you were 9cm dilated. I remember going to get a drink and five people being in the room when I got back. Not getting any sleep wasn’t great but it helped prepare me for the upcoming months!

What about holding Ted for the first time? What was your thought?

My thought was to try and not let him bang his head because he was kicking his legs against the chair! Once he settled I remember staring at him and then you and back and forth and remember thinking he looked like a bird! Which he did right?

Yeah he had a little beak! What would be your tip to a first time parent for surviving those first few weeks?

Ask for help. Don’t try and change the first nappy without asking for help from the midwife. Sleep when you can. Try and remember every moment. And eat!

How do you think we have changed since he’s been born?

I think we are both more resilient. I’m definitely more considerate of other people. I’m not as lazy. I think you’ve proved to yourself that you are strong. I think together we’ve realised what doesn’t matter and we now know what is important.

What’s the biggest sacrifice you’ve had to make?

Well, I haven’t really had to sacrifice anything, as in giving anything up. I have missed playing football on a saturday but its not like i don’t get to play football. I’ve had to sacrifice having more time to relax, but I don’t miss it because what I’m doing now is better.

What’s the biggest sacrifice you’ve had to see me make?

Your independence.

Wow, thats deep.

It’s true! Alcohol for you. And cheese when you were pregnant. That was hard for you wasn’t it?

Yeah, it was. I missed brie. Do you remember what meal I wanted to eat when we first got home from the hospital?

Macaroni cheese?

No, that was in the hospital.

Ohh, cheese and crackers!

Yes! And what about Ted now? What do you love most about him?

I wouldn’t be able to tell you specifically what it is, I just know because I miss him when I’m not with him that I do. Oh I’m crying! My favourite thing about him is when he is sat here on the couch and he is talking to himself and he’s entertaining himself and playing with his toys and I just look at him and it makes me happy. I like that we’ve done it and we’ve done it well. I spent the first three months of his life, I didn’t tell you this, I was always scared about squashing him or dropping him or not being gentle enough or just hurting him, but it’s great now that I can just throw him around and he loves it. But actually I think the best thing and everyone would agree is his smile. He smiles at everyone and everyone seems to remember him and everyone always asks me how he is. I think he’s the best bits from the both of us.

What are your hopes and dreams for Ted’s future? What do you want for him?

Growing up, I want him to have a stable family unit. I want him to have the opportunity to explore things that he likes and the support of his family to make the right choices for him. I’d like him to play sport. And I’d like him to make the most of his talent, if he has any, and not let any kind of insecurity be a barrier to him expressing himself and being the best that he can be. I want us, me and you, to let him know that he can do that.

Big question. Do you want more? Could you do it again?

At the moment, I can’t imagine having another child, but I know that I will do. I’m certain that I will do. That’s just because as much as this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever done, it is very difficult. But as he grows up, I’m certain that I’ll be ready, but just not straight away. I know that I will want a girl in future because the Olding girls are cool.

And what if we have another boy?

Then I’ll put him in a dress!

You have to be honest – What is your least favourite thing about being a dad?

Lack of sleep. No. It’s not lack of sleep. It’s waking up when I’m not ready to wake up.

And finally- your favourite thing about being a dad?

I think just having a family. Being part of something more important than just myself.