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. 

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.