In my last post I talked about how terrified I was about giving birth. I couldn’t stop crying and was dreading it. I left you all on the edge of your seat (in my mind anyway) ahead of my Birth Rewind session, where I was to relive my birthing experience and get myself ready for birth. I’m sure you’re itching to find out how it went and what else I’ve done to get myself into the slightly surprising place that I’m kind of looking forward to giving birth to my third child?!
I didn’t really realise that I was traumatised by last birth. I know it sounds melodramatic but apparently splitting my gooch inches away from three unfamiliar faces while my husband looked on shouting “DRIIIIIVE” was just a step too far for my sensitive disposition.
After a painful couple of weeks post-birth, I wrote about it for your enjoyment and then promptly tucked it away in mental box never to be opened again.
Until I fell pregnant again. Turns out the locked box method isn’t the best approach for trauma! Who knew!
Is it PTSD?
For the first 28 or so weeks it didn’t matter but then my mind did that thing our minds do and started whispering “you do know you’re going to have to push a baby out of your vagina again, right?” at the most inopportune moments. It was like Patrick Swayze in Ghost. I was Whoopi.
The midwives and consultants were all pretty pro-Caesarean after reading my notes. But consider looking after a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old and a newborn whilst unable to get up the stairs or walk for the first week, do any of the promised fun stuff like Peppa Pig World (yep!), playing in the garden or drive for 6 weeks?! This was not my favoured option. Not to mention the inability to exercise for 12 weeks afterwards – both of our Mums are (rather inconsiderately) re-marrying within a few weeks of me giving birth so exercise is pretty high on my agenda. I’m desperate not to be eternally immortalised as the hippo on the wall in both of our Mum’s houses.
As well as that, my husband is pretty awesome as husbands go but even he would draw the line at driving me and our brood everywhere for 3 months! Particularly as he’s the only earner at the minute so he does reasonably need to head out without us sometimes. A C-section just isn’t for us at this point and I’ll be pretty peed off if it ends up going this way.
Which means there’s only one way out for this Bad Boy.
And it’s not one I have a great experience of. It was in fact the original inspiration for this blog!
After admitting just how scared I was to myself and then to you, I looked into what I could do about it. Not a lot is the answer! Other than get myself into a psychological state where I feel ok about the fact that I am giving birth again.
My chosen way of doing this was via my new hero, Shirley Stump. A local doula (woman who helps you through birth), hypnobirthing counsellor, musician, Indian head masseuse, local Positive Birth Movement leader…general pregnancy and baby obsessed superstar helping the mothers of Hampshire, Sussex and Surrey maintain their sanity. She performed something on me called a Birth Rewind Session.
The Rewind method, I later found out, is a common treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). I felt embarrassed that childbirth gave me PTSD. Only me. But then I remembered the ever growing bump. And turned my attention back to my session with Shirley.
I was dreading it.
Before I go on, you have to imagine Shirley. She’s little and Irish and bouncy. And very funny. And very warm. She loves a cuddle. Both Husband and I are a little bit in love with her (don’t tell her though, she’ll think we’re weird).
She arrived on a gloomy Monday afternoon and I was in tears before I even opened the front door. The next two hours were rough! We spent the first hour talking through the whole labour in minute detail, interspersed with my body wracking sobs. Poor Husband hadn’t been adequately prepared. I had told not to come in the room so, unknown to me, he paced up and down the hallway hearing me cry but not able to come in and comfort me. Big error on my part. Big soz to Husband.
Once all my tears were out, I was able to be a bit more rational and we got to the bottom of the things about the birth that had upset me. Weirdly it wasn’t the pain, as I had attributed it to, but a multitude of other things. The lack of control, the bright lights, what sounded like a murder victim in the birth room next door, the long journey to the hospital, the metal table I was examined on, the not being able to do the things I had been told would be ok (birth pool, no monitoring etc)…and the biggy, the 3 midwives all in a row staring at my fanny for two hours as they all barked instructions at me on how to push effectively. Oh, and the fact they made Husband look at a baby’s head poking out of me when we had explicitly agreed that we didn’t want him to look. So apparently quite a lot about the whole event had really got to me.
We then talked about how I imagined the perfect birth to look. We picked out the key things that really mattered to me – privacy, dim lighting, as few people as possible – and then my mind was left to imagine what a positive birth could look like for me.
We did a guided meditation where I had to watch myself watching my previous labour from beginning to end, then watch it again and then relive it. We then smashed it up and recreated a positive story, where all of the important things to me were included.
I immediately felt more at peace, if not a little bruised. I slept all afternoon, after reassuring Husband that Shirley hadn’t been torturing me.
For the next few days I had a stinking headache and was still pretty emotional. But in the days and weeks that followed, everything kind of levelled out in my mind. Shirley and I spoke regularly and we did another guided meditation a couple of weeks later. After three weeks I found that I could talk about labour without crying. I was amazed.
Husband and I agreed that we could do with more of this magic and signed up to some Katharine Graves Hypnobirthing sessions with Shirley. I read the book, asked Husband to read the book (he read a third, not a bad result), listened to the tracks and then we threw ourselves in as good students. We have the pictures around the house, we listen to the relaxation tracks every night and I repeat the mantras daily. And a couple of weeks ago we started the pièce de la resistance….perineal message.
It’s not the most enjoyable but we have been repeatedly reassured by all the health professionals that it really does make a difference. I selected an organic heaven-produced-and-tended-to-by-angels oil and sent Husband a few links to learn how to do it properly. We agreed every other day was enough for us both and have stuck, almost, to this plan. In terms of the errrr….stretching part, I don’t know if it works or not. What it has done, rather unexpectedly, is taught me how to use the hynobirthing technique. I can take myself out of my head and forget it’s happening and relax to the point where I almost can’t feel it.
And that, my friends, has led me to the point where I am actually beginning to feel quite calm and confident about the whole thing. Success!
Ready for Birth
We are trying to overcome all the other problems from last time by having a homebirth. I am trying to balance confidence in my abilities with accepting that sometimes you have to transfer into the hospital. But generally I tell myself that this little man is being delivered on the sitting room floor. I’ve just finished my shopping list – extra large groundsheet, plastic polythene sheeting, puppy pads, towels, Tenna pants – it’s happening people. It’s like preparing for a murder clean up (according to Dexter, not my experience).
Even if things don’t go to my plan, I have at least done everything in my power to prepare for a good birth. The things within my control are being controlled, and anything beyond that I am prepared to accept as natures way. From a practical perspective, Angel Shirley has helped me recover from the crippling dread I was feeling and got me into a positive mindset with an incredibly supportive team of midwives caring for me. Which is why I think it’s worth it, regardless of what happens.
It’s here I leave you. 38 weeks pregnant and full of fresh hope.
I’ll report back après birth!
If you want to know more about any of this then happy for you to message me directly! I can highly recommend finding your local Shirley, finding your local Rewind Practitioner attending your local Positive Birth Movement groups (don’t be put off by the name) and putting in the time to prepare just to get yourself in a good headspace, maybe with hypnobirthing. That can never be a bad thing, surely?!
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You may have been surprised when I announced my third pregnancy. Particularly if you recall that my very reason for starting this blog was my outraged horror at giving birth naturally, after a c-section with Girly no1. Now I am having to confront my fear of giving birth. And, let me tell you, the fear is massive. (Warning: there’s a lot of vajayjay chat in this one…)
My last childbirth experience was awful. My husband did more than watch his favourite pub burn down – he watched it be vandalised, torn up, petrol bombed and then burnt….while his friends were still in there drinking. Labour itself lasted for days. I tore from front to back. I was exhausted for not having slept for 3 days. It took 7 hours after the delivery for me to be sewn back up again. I was in hospital away from Girly no1 for 3 nights. The recovery was far from the ‘tired and achey post-gym’ feeling I was expecting. I was in agony. I couldn’t sit down. I went to the doctors sobbing after ten days because the itching and stinging I felt was like gyrating on razor blades. I had thrush. I bled continuously for months. It was shit.
That’s Childbirth Baby
If you’ve had a baby you’re probably sat there nodding or wondering what I’m bitching about. “That’s childbirth!” you’re probably saying with a “get over it” type smile on your face.
And I know it’s not like I nearly died or anything. I know this stuff happens to everyone. I just think that most people just deal with it much better than I have. That or they just don’t talk about it. I think my problem is that I just wasn’t expecting it to be like that. I mean I knew labour would hurt. But I did not expect to be broken in half and feel like I had been raped and beaten repeatedly for a month. It hit me hard.
I did recover physically. More quickly than I would have with a c-section, and eventually I even had sex again, though that was no walk in the park for a long time. Mentally, I tried to get over it. I wrote about it and I talked about it (a bit). In reality, I still felt like I was being a drama queen.
Ok Let’s Go Again
But as often happens, my flat out ‘no, I’m never giving birth again’ feeling eventually started to ebb away. With our relationship back on track, everyone sleeping and life and businesses moving on; we decided last year that we would have another baby while we were still in the baby/toddler phase of life. We didn’t want to find too much independence only to lose it again so we agreed that we should just bosh them out (for want of a better expression). One surprisingly devastating miscarriage later and two years after one of the most horrific experiences of life so far (yep, there was little magic in childbirth, I found), here we are.
28 weeks pregnant. 10 to 14 weeks away from giving birth. And it has all come flooding back. I am not feeling good about it! In fact I’m terrified. I can’t talk about giving birth without bursting into tears. I have realised this in the last few weeks as people have started to ask.
hows it coming out?
Husband was the first ahead of our last midwife appointment. He carefully picked at his words to ask if we were going for natural or asking for a c-section, him having found the whole thing no less traumatic than I did. I started bravely telling him of course natural – a c-section is major surgery, the recovery is too long, I won’t be able to drive the Girlies, I want to get straight back into exercise etc. He looked slightly alarmed but agreed to go along with it. A few minutes later he found me weeping in another room as I finally let myself think about what was about to happen to me again. He did exactly the right thing, held me for ages and then told me he’ll do whatever I want to do. He’ll have the fights. He’ll defend me to the death. That’s his job.
A few days later my mother-in-law asked the same innocent question. Again, I erupted into tears, admitting I was terrified.
It came to a head in my pregnancy yoga class. We normally have a nice cosy chit chat before we start and the nervous first-time mums rub their about-to-pop bellies talking about how they’re “sure childbirth won’t be that bad.” I have done my best to tread a line between honesty and fear-mongering to the first-time mums I have come across since. I gave birth. In this situation I just stared at the ground. I fought with my face to try and keep it neutral. I probably looked like Jim Carey in the Mask from the outside.
As I sat there listening to them ‘wish it would just happen now’ my hands ground into each other and started to clam up. I felt that familiar lump at the back of my throat and the corners of my eyes start to sting. Our very smiley yoga teacher, pregnant with her second baby, talked fondly of labour and tried, rightly so, to keep things positive. She asked why there aren’t more positive birth stories out there. I continued to stare down at the floor silently begging her not to ask me about either of my previous two. As one of the ‘more experienced Mums,’ she often asks me to share. She looked at me for slightly longer than necessary finally sensing that I’m wasn’t a good person to ask.
Normally I am quite happy to share – ‘don’t worry, your baby will let you know when it’s hungry’, ‘sure, you’ll have sex again one day,’ ‘take your time with breast feeding, it’s a skill you have to learn, and it doesn’t always come easily’. Even to the second-time Mums – ‘no1 will be a pain but they will come through it,’ ‘the life change isn’t so severe the second time round as you’re already in a family-friendly routine,’ ‘don’t feel bad about sending them off with grandparents for days out, they’ll love it, and they probably won’t remember this in a month or two’s time.’ I’m fairly good with reassurances. I have quite a calm and confident demeanour so people tend to believe me.
It’s exactly why you don’t want to ask me about childbirth.
my fear of giving birth again
After very nearly crying in a room full of near-strangers I realised I needed to do something about it. This baby is coming out of me one way or another and even I no longer believe my casual “it is what it is” response I had been giving anyone that asked. I also know, on a logical level, that the more fearful I am going into labour, the more my body will be flooded with adrenaline which will negate the oxytocin my body needs to progress with labour. One way or another, I need to find a way to try and relax into this birth. It’s not complex. On a scientific level, I get it. On a practical and emotional level, I really don’t.
I have been looking into things I can do.
There is a general wave of positivity around birth at the minute. A desire to share more positive birth stories. I have joined a group – the ‘positive birth movement’ group in my local area. I didn’t want to because the name made me feel like I would have to get smelly dreadlocks, wear Birkenstocks in the winter and carry all my children in a fabric sling around my body at the same time. But I fought my mean pre-judgements and joined the group, first on Facebook and then in real life. I went to the first meeting, hoping I wouldn’t have to share my birth stories. “Hi I’m Jess and I’m a Birthaphobic”.
I took the Girlies with me as cover. They are a great distraction in times of discomfort. If anything will stop me crying it’s them. They are also a huge distraction when you’re trying to listen, but that’s the pay off.
The group was actually really nice. It was a great mixture of pregnant women, new mums, second, third and fourth-time Mums, doulas (women who support you through labour), post birth doulas (didn’t know that was a thing), and breast feeding counsellors. There were even two mums that I could be friends with. They are why I’ll go back next time – because there are other ‘normal women’ like me also in need. More importantly than new friends though, the lady that runs it is a counsellor/doula/hypnobirthing expert. And I think she is the only person with the power to help me right now.
what’s a girl to do
I am going to have some one-to-one sessions with her. Tomorrow we are doing a ‘Birth Rewind’ session where we talk about everything from last time around, try and process it and move on.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
I am also, despite my disappointment and writing it off last time, having another go at hypnobirthing. Whilst it might not have helped me with pain management, it was my one saving grace helping me rest between contractions. And I did enjoy the excuse of lying down for 20 minutes every day to ‘practice.’ This time I am doing it properly. I’m taking the course. I’m reading the books. I’m listening to the tracks. I may even get a t-shirt.
And these things are why I have written this today. Because I’m not allowed to be negative anymore. I’m getting it all out of my system before my Birth Rewind session and I am moving forward with positivity. You can laugh if you like but just do me one favour. Keep it quiet ‘til the baby is out!
Huge thanks for reading as usual! Feel free to share. And do me a favour and publicly or privately admit that you were scared too – it will make me feel better. Any tips also much appreciated! Big love to you and your families.
Peeps, it’s been a while. And I’m sorry. But I have been harbouring an enormous secret. And the time has come for me to announce what you may already know, may have been waiting for, or may not have given a second thought to (rude!)…Sprog 3 is on it’s way! We’re in the so-called safety zone and out of the bastard-first-trimester. Woohoo!
This post is little more than a pregnancy rant so I apologise in advance. Remember my first post childbirth post? (If not, feel free to refresh your mind here!). This has the same outraged overtone. It’s is my thousand word rant on how bloody awful the first 12 weeks of pregnancy are. It might not be 12 weeks if, like me, you found out at 5 weeks but my lord it feels like 12 years! In fact, my bad patch lasted until I was 14 weeks pregnant. It could be worse though, you may be one of those women that suffer for the whole 9 months. I salute you ladies, I don’t know how you do it. That’s only-child territory.
However there are also some of you arseholes (I mean lovely people – it’s the hormones!) that have no symptoms at all. I can’t even look at you right now and it is best we avoid one another. I need another week or two. Personally I like to embrace things fully. Which means I have been exhausted, nauseous, sad, angry, snappy, in pain, sore boobed….all of the things. All at the same time. All of the 14 weeks. Oh, and did I mention the migraines? Another delightful side-affect. It’s ridiculous.
My feeling-sorry-for-myself phase lasts for a standard first trimester only. This one though, felt particularly bad. I had days when I couldn’t get out of bed. I stayed horizontal for full 48-hour periods, excepting the two 30-minute round trips to drop off and collect my existing children from nursery each day. I felt physically horrendous, looked even worse and have emotionally been like a bag of teenage sisters. I spent 9 weeks with a pink eyed, blotchy cheeked white/green face telling everyone I’m fine.
But, having been through this twice (actually, three times) before, I know that this is all pretty standard for the first trimester. I can get over it. And I know it passes. I can even, after time, bring myself to be friends with some of you “no symptoms” people.
But there is one thing I cannot get past and simply cannot understand.
That we’re not supposed to tell anyone.
We are ‘supposed’ to keep this huge, enormous, gut-wrenching, tear producing, anxiety inducing thing a secret from everyone we know! It’s so….weird. If you tell people you are 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 or even 11 weeks pregnant then you are met with Judgy McJudgerson face. “Oh. Well. We never told anyone until we reached the second trimester….you know….in case the worst happens…”.
“Yes, I do know.” I want to growl. Because the worst has happened. But surely if I would (and did) share with you my deep sadness at experiencing a miscarriage then it’s OK to tell you that I’m pregnant now?!
Some of our closest friends were more shocked by us telling them we were expecting our third child than the fact we were having a third child.
I have described previously how blown my mind was after I wrote about my miscarriage here. The reaction was astonishing, not just from a sympathy point of view but from the perspective of the staggering number of people who had been through similar experiences. This strange secret 12-week period seems to me one of the reasons that miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies and a whole raft of other awful experiences people go through are not talked about more. And why it’s so much more of a body blow when it happens to you.
I can’t understand why it’s not OK to talk about pre-12 week pregnancy. Or why it’s not real news until you’re past 12 weeks. It is crazy because there is no less pain attached to something that wasn’t here as long.
Of course at the other end of the spectrum there are the its-not-my-secret-to-keep-so-I-can-tell-anyone people. Which is how my father-in-law found out he was to be blessed with a third grandchild! That’s not actually fair, it was an accidental blab, but he still found out through someone else not guarding our secret as a secret. Pretty much everyone I told once we were in the so-called safety zone already knew through someone else.
Is it a secret or isn’t it?! I’m so confused!
Lots of people questioned our decision to tell Girly no1 our secret when we reached ten weeks. But the poor child was in turmoil. Everyone was whispering over her head and I was either screeching at her for not being able to do a shoelace up (can any 3-year old?) or suggesting we spend quality time together then promptly falling asleep. It got so bad that she started playing with my eyelashes, I assume in a bid to get me to open my eyes? All she knew is that Mummy kept disappearing, spent lots of time in bed and wasn’t her normal smiley self.
We knew that once she knew, she would tell everyone she met. I’m not sure the postman or the Poundland cashier cared but it was beautiful. Watching her be excited about this big news for our family was heart achingly lovely. We enjoyed every moment and wouldn’t change a thing!
Ultimately it is every couple’s decision when they tell but I think we should stop being so outraged at other people’s announcement choices and keep our Judgy faces to ourselves. For us, our measure was, and is, would I tell this person if I suffered a miscarriage or something else awful happened? If the answer is yes, then why wouldn’t we tell you before 12 weeks? It was nice not to be asking ‘will this person notice that I’m not drinking or smoking?’ like it was the first time around! With our Girlies, we try and be as open and honest with them as we can. The last thing we want to do is add to all of the confusion and anxiety that exists in the world. And when they’re happy, we’re happy!
This whole post may leave you asking why I didn’t tell you about this baby sooner. It’s not because I didn’t want to. It’s because I was too busy shouting at the Girlies from behind my bowl of pickled onion Monster Munch, hiding my wet cheeks and pretending my voice wasn’t breaking. Or I was asleep.
Until next time amigos!
If you have enjoyed this post, please feel free to share with your friends. Love you! Bye!
Flying with young children is the least possible relaxing start to a holiday one can possibly imagine. I would liken it to trying to squash five baby monkeys into a shoe box. The lid of which is a fraction too small. Whilst someone batters you round the head with a book every 30 seconds. But it doesn’t have to be so stressful. If everyone would just chill the f**k out then we could all have a lovely time…
I have been a little quiet recently. Between my two darling girlies, a (very) boozy summer and trying to get my new business off the ground, life has been a little hectic. Off the back of one of these boozy summer evenings, we…acquired (?) a week in a villa in Tuscany. I question the word acquired because it was won (?) via a silent auction at a charity ball we attended. Is won even the right word? That is like saying “I won” on eBay. The truth is that it was bid on by my heavily inebriated Husband.
Despite the fact that all we had to go on was a grainy 3cm x 3cm picture and a description that read “Enchanted extravaganza in a 5-bedroom villa in Tuscany complete with private pool”, he bid rather more money than I would have for a complete unknown entity. The auction host chat had gone on a bit and we, having lingered by the cocktail bar for too long, returned to our table to see what the slightly muffled monologue was about. Drunk Husband nabbed the table iPad and sneakily bid on some random artwork and signed boxing gloves.
I realised what he was doing and squawked at him to stop. He promised he would whilst continuing to sneakily push buttons looking at me like Gollum every time he ignored our pre-agreed financial limit. He insisted he was bidding on a holiday for us and it would be amazing. I had given up asking “how much?” and resigned myself to the fact we were going to end up with an unnaturally large frame in our siting room with giant boxing gloves sticking out and looking ridiculous. I imagined paying the cleaners extra to “accidentally” break the frame and turned away, shaking my head. At which point I saw my friend, also the evening’s compère, stalking towards me to publicly, and loudly, thank us for our overwhelming generosity. Over the microphone to a room full of about 800 people, my eyes widened as our name appeared on the screen. Second highest bidder of the evening behind the Chairman of some Bank. Shit. What had he done?!
Villa acquired/won/bought/embarrassingly-publicly-bid-on, we text our most seasoned traveller family friends and asked if they fancied joining us for a week in Italy. They immediately answered yes, without asking any of the questions that were going through my head – pool fencing, stair gates, number of breakable antiques…you know, the boring stuff. I told myself I was worrying over nothing and I silently thanked them for paying half of what we would have had to pay on our own. All in the name of charity right?! We booked our flights a few weeks later, and as I write we have just returned from a week in beautiful Tuscany.
On the whole, it was a lovely week. It didn’t get off to the greatest start but it definitely improved after we arrived.
We like an early flight and so booked the 6am out of Gatwick to Pisa. Staying at the Premier Inn the night before, we had a nice leisurely drive to the airport, stopped for dinner, dropped the car off and then were all in bed nice and early ready to wake up at 3.30am. For Girly no1, who is almost 4, this first night was the highlight of her holiday. All of us in one tiny hotel room, beds jammed together in a row, she loved it. She actually spent the rest of the holiday asking when we were going back to the first hotel.
Girly no2, nearly 2, also appeared to love it. I say appeared, her fondness was expressed by crapping all over the bed sheets of all four of the beds. “How?” you might reasonably ask. In putting her PJ’s on, I whipped off her nappy and she pulled one of her roll-and-run manoeuvres, scurrying after her sister, who was launching herself from one side of Bed Row to the other. Amidst all the squealing and giggling, it just became too much. Poo everywhere. All over the starched white sheets. Eventually we cleaned up and everyone settled in to a short night’s sleep.
I Get It
The next morning we boarded our flight with three slightly hysterical little girls. Flying SleazyJet, we were all in a row, Husband, Girly no1 and I. Girly no2 does not yet have her own seat so was excitedly flinging herself from one lap to the other, while everyone else boarded the plane. I noticed the couple that sat in front of us. They didn’t really look like “kid people” but hey, it’s an hour and 45 minutes to Pisa, how bad could it be?!
Before I go off on my diatribe, I want to tell you that I get it. I get that toddlers, babies and children can be a pain in the arse on an aeroplane. Husband and I spent many pre-children years travelling all over the world. We have been sat near the screaming child. We have had our seats kicked for an entire flight that, just when you give into the dream of being in your bed soon, you’re held in the air circling London for an extra hour. I have had my hair pulled and been woken up repeatedly from a hungover doze by a little hand tapping me on the back of my head. And sure, it’s a bit annoying. But! But, dear readers! I just dealt with it. I whacked on an eye mask, had a few drinks, snuggled up to Husband’s shoulder and did my best to ignore it. And when the parent of said child walked up and down frantically apologising I smiled warmly and said “don’t worry, it’s fine.” You know why? Because I’m not an arsehole. And I know that adding stress to an already stressful situation is the worst possible thing to do.
What I did not do was tut, complain, moan, glare, mutter angrily or stare. Which is exactly what Toad Face and Coconut Head (terms of endearment for the couple sat in front of us) did the whole way to Pisa.
In fairness to the Girlies, they were really well behaved. They weren’t crying or screaming, there were no tears or fighting, there was just a bit of movement and the odd over-excited outburst.
Girly no2 couldn’t remember any of her previous flights and was both excited and terrified to be on an aeroplane. She swapped laps a few times, she stretched out her short fat legs and she played with the tray on the seat in front a bit. Because she’s 1 and a new place is interesting to her.
Girly no1 sat quietly most of the time on the iPad with her new headphones on, occasionally shouting “GORLY!” in a too-loud voice to her best friend across the aisle because she doesn’t understand that her voice increases by 50 decibels when her ears are covered. I found it hilarious. The first few times anyway! She also nudged the seat in front a few times because her legs are the perfect length to stretch from one seat to the other and at 3, she has no concept of distance, pressure etc. Why would she? She’s 3.
The man and woman in front of us were the worst possible people to be sat in front of me and my lovely-though-not-very-still family. They were tutters. And moaners. And grunters. And starers. With evil eyes. And big pig noses. And slobber hanging from their jaws. Ok I may have made that last bit up but they definitely weren’t kind. They turned round every minute or so to glare at us. It made me paranoid, edgy and fraught. And it made what should have been quite a sweet fuss-free experience a really fractious one that had me holding my one year old’s feet together in a bid to stop her moving. We had to try and pin her to one of our laps instead of letting her gaze out at the clouds or peek her head into the aisle to make new friends.
Their behaviour had me snapping at Girly no1 to stop wriggling. It made us hissy and snippy when really, there was no need. I know there was no need, not because I can see no wrong in our children (for evidence read any of my previous posts), but because they were by general standards, pretty well behaved. And I’m very clear on whether my children are doing horrible things to upset other people. This was confirmed by a member of cabin crew and at least two other travellers who told us so, unprompted after we landed. We were the last to get off the plane. We picked up all of our toys from the fun bag I had packed (previous post on Flying With Babies here) and disembarked the aircraft.
This anxious start to everyone’s holiday was just unnecessary. It didn’t do any of us any good. Toad Face and Coconut Head were grumpy and we were stressed out. The girlies obviously didn’t give a shit – why would they? That said, they don’t respond well to a snappy parent, because small people are mood sponges and the more agitated their parent becomes, the more annoying the child becomes. It’s science (I know, I should be a teacher).
I wanted to stop to Toad Face and Coconut Head and discuss the impact of their behaviour with them. But what would be the point? I doubt they will be any less grumpy until they have children of their own. If they ever do. We will always be annoying to some people. I accept that. But it’s for such a short period of time. And we do our best to contain our annoyingness. We take our own entertainment and food and whatever else we need to do to try and be inconspicuous. We’re definitely not going to travel any less.
They had somehow ended up near us at baggage reclaim. I sat on some seats, glowering at them and ranting in my head. “Just you wait til you never read my blog!” I thought! The three girls ran around burning off some pent up energy. I secretly hoped one of them might trip them up, then I thought, let it go. You’re on holiday. And, in the spirit of Elsa, I did.
Bonus: Free Advice on Flying With Young Children
Just quickly, I want to point out here to any new parents thinking of flying: I have heard some of you talk of not flying until your child has reached their first birthday. NO! THIS IS WRONG! Flying with a tiny little little person is easy because they are still and they are used to being in one place. The bad time is between starting to crawl and walk and pre-being-able-to-be-engaged-in-an-activity. That’s the nightmare phase. This is the one we are in the thick of now! Just some free advice for you.
Thanks for stopping by! If you have enjoyed, please feel free to share with your friends. Apologies for the long gap between posts. You will maybe be pleased to know that I have already started on the next post so hopefully it will appear on here sometime soon. Maybe. Love you! Bye!
Those of you that regularly read my blog may remember me talking about my fear of birthing a psychopath. Turns out it wasn’t unfounded. Girly no2 is displaying some real tendencies. And with the quiet questioning brain of Girly no1 at her side…I’m concerned. Have I birthed the world’s next political powerhouse? Hillary and Bill? Or is it more like Hitler and Himmler? I’m really left wondering is my toddler a psycho…
I don’t know why I thought I may birth a psychopath. I assume the thought crossed everyone’s mind at some point during their pregnancy. We always knew that a combination of our personalities have the making of a psycho. Husband’s friendly chirpy facade covering a guilt-free, unemotional detachment from all but his closest inner circle. My pensive, calculated mind and my ability to meticulously plan for every eventuality. These personalities combined with our Hollywood good looks (HA!) you basically have Patrick Bateman of Hampshire complete with 150gsm business cards printed in Helvetica. I started to give it real consideration after I read Lionel Shriver’s We Need To Talk About Kevin, although the parents seem surprised in that book. Husband and I would not be.
Sweetness and light
Girly no1 quickly put our fears to rest as her personality emerged. At nearly 4, she’s a carbon copy of me but untainted by age and life! So she is still sweet and kind. She asks questions (interrogates) like I do but it’s with genuine curiosity and keenness to learn. She’s not yet mastered manipulation and she doesn’t really have a temper, only ever having had one meltdown which shook us all so much I wrote a blog about it. She scores highly on the empathy scale. She can be reduced to tears watching someone else be sad. She cries at films and cuddles her friends to try and make them feel better when they are sad. She gently pats her little chubby hands on their cheeks telling them not to worry (this makes me cry when she does it to me). She is emotional like I am (I cried last week when Dani and Jack were reunited). She re-tells events from her day at nursery welling up when Lauren didn’t want to be her friend but was only joking, or when Seb walked too fast so fell and hurt his knee. She feels their pain. So I don’t think she is the next Hitler, Mussolini or Trump (yep, I just bracketed them all together). Unless really heavily influenced I’m not sure Girly no1 has it in her to do anything horrible.
Girly no2 however is a whole new kettle of fish. She is a charmer. She loves to make you laugh. But she will kiss you with that cute smiley face then slap you and run away. She sucks strangers in, attracting their attention with cutesy giggles, a little lisp and y’s instead of l’s when she talks (Heyo!). Then when someone bends down to chat with her, she flings her head to the side ignoring them. Or she growls and lowers her brow looking out under it like Damien in The Omen. She toys with people’s emotions. She only really likes Mumma, Daddy and her sister. Everyone else is a puppet in her show. As I started to type this she was staring at her sister’s back. After a couple of minutes she suddenly launched herself at her, pushing her with all her might. When no1 didn’t respond satisfactorily she had another think, then tried again using her whole body. It’s disturbing to see an 20-month old plotting to take down her nemesis. But she was relentless and she persevered until eventually she knocked no1 over, catching her off balance. She sat smugly watching her afterwards, looking very pleased with herself. I imagined her making mental notes on angel of trajectory, speed and length of approach. I could almost see her slowly, imperceptibly nodding.
As well as already being a master manipulator, enjoying causing pain and lack of emotion, she shows signs of another psychopathic trait. Lack of remorse. A few days ago, Girly no1 was doing her normal thing of making her baby sister laugh by lying on her wriggling. No2 had been laughing when suddenly she sat bolt upright, reached into her sisters hair and pulled out a huge clump. No1 screamed and cried. No2 watched her for a moment then began to mimic the noises and sounds. No tears though. I stood her up and said look how much she had upset her sister, how she should say sorry etc. She stopped her shouting, looked at me and said “No!” with a little pursed mouth. I was momentarily stunned. I sat her just outside the room facing the baby gate at the top of the stairs. She could still see us and sat there watching me comfort Girly no1. I didn’t think for a moment she would stay there, but she did. After a couple of minutes I went and said “come and say sorry to your sister for hurting her and give her a cuddle”.
I left her again for a couple of minutes. “Are you ready to say sorry now?”
A few more minutes passed. To her credit she didn’t move from the spot I had left her. “Come on,” I said, thinking she’d probably forgotten why she was there in the first place. “You hurt your sister and it made her sad when you pulled her hair. It’s not kind”. Slowly and deliberately she stood up, walked to her sister and cuddled her.
“Aaaaah” she said.
“Say sorry” I gently coaxed.
She stared at me for what felt like a very long time looking back and forth between her sister and I. Eventually she whispered “Sowee”. I didn’t even know she could whisper.
Is My Toddler A Psychopath?
Other psychopathic traits include narcissism (tick), impulsiveness (tick) and lack of responsibility (tick). Tick tick tick. Oh god. In a hot sweaty moment of realisation, I did some research. I discovered that scientists believe that there is a psycho gene. Should we all get tested?! What do you do about that? I stressed out some more. What have we created? What have we inflicted on the world?! What if my mini Hitler influences my kind little fluff headed no1 and then they become the first notorious psycho sister duo in the UK. I’m not sure I’m mentally capable. The good news is that with real nurture, psycho’s can live normal lives and actually live amongst us. Reflecting on it, I actually think we know a few (wondering how many of my friend’s will question whether I’m talking about them!). You just have to be firm and moral. Lots of apologies and taught empathy – Dexter style. We can do this.
Or Maybe Just A Toddler
Of course it might just be that my hilarious little toddler is just that. A toddler. Pushing boundaries, learning about herself and others, learning about cause and affect. Learning how to communicate, influence and negotiate. It might just be that she is a strong mind and a big personality on tiny shoulders. Or I may have birthed the next Hindley. We’ll just have to wait and see.
If you haven’t read this with your tongue in your cheek then I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place. My girls are beautiful and kind hearted. If not a bit weird. But then who isn’t?! If you’ve enjoyed it please like and share!
Husband freaked us both out this week. One of the nursery girls asked him where Girly no1 would be starting school and if he had added it to the list so he could organise some play dates (she obviously doesn’t know him very well). He ran home in a panic-stricken flurry. “Where’s she starting school? When? Have we applied? Why didn’t you talk to me about it? The list! We need to add her to the list!”…
I laughed affectionately as he counted the months on his fingers. He confirmed with me that she started when she was 4 and that the school term starts in September. His face was flooded with relief as he realised we hadn’t missed anything. Being a September baby, she doesn’t start school til next year, a full 18 months away. I briefly asked myself whether he thought I was that bad I would miss something so monstrous. Does he not know how anxious I am about her starting school?! Starting school sucks! It’s the worst! We still have a year a half, but already it makes me feel a bit nauseous.
Parents of older children will laugh at me for this. Parents of younger children will (mostly) nod in sympathy. My mum will cover her face and laugh. She will laugh because I hated starting school. Hated it with a passion. And I hated every September starting a new class.
I especially hated having a new teacher in a new room and new people. In fact, the only thing I liked was the new books, especially in senior school when we got to cover them in sticky back plastic. That played perfectly to my slightly autistic need for perfection. I go into a trance-like state of admiration in the library if I come a across a neatly covered book with no bubbles, a smooth plane and perfectly folded corners. (I’m such a weirdo, I probably shouldn’t share this stuff).
The night before going back to school after a long hot summer I would cry all night. In my teenage years, the tears were replaced with a face of thunder, grunts and lots of stomping (more than usual). I struggled to shake it off as an adult. I would get that same ‘back to school’ feeling most Sunday evenings and every time I returned from holiday. If I happened to have PMT on my first day back I would definitely cry as I left the house. Yes! I am the personification of what you would call “a big baby”. It’s probably why I’m so happy now I don’t have to go to work on a Monday morning. Just to my sofa! No more back to school feeling (virtual high fives with myself).
My first few years of school were nothing less than traumatic for my poor Mum. After prising me away from her leg and ‘jollying me along’ into class she would go back to the car to cry into the steering wheel because I had sobbed since waking up. Clock watching until an acceptable amount of time had passed, she would call and check how I was. Inevitably I was fine. Well, almost fine. One time I was still in tears because I had missed my snack at break time as I couldn’t open my new lunchbox. Cue many future years of making me practice opening my lunchbox every day for two weeks before going back to school. This story story can still make my Mum cry if you catch her on a bad day now.
My own memories must not rub off on Girly no1. I’ll do everything I can to not let this happen. But I also know that she is a carbon copy of me. She is very sensitive and any ruffling of her feathers results in tears first, other feelings afterwards. Yesterday she cried for 25 minutes because her hair band broke (it was from Poundland, I don’t know what she expected). The week before she moaned for a whole day about why her best friend didn’t want to kiss her goodbye (she wants to marry this friend but I’m not sure her family are as open to lesbianism as we are). It took her 6 months to settle into nursery, then it has taken a good couple of months to settle each time she has changed groups (you know, moving from one side of the room to the other…having to climb an extra set of stairs…big changes). She’s not great with change.
Ow, My Heart
I didn’t used to like change either, though strangely now I fall into the early adopter category. I quite like change and am willing to give most things a go. This may be all my years of project management. That doesn’t help me with Girly no1 though, whose worries, reactions and concerns feel like physical pain in my heart.
It’s my job to help her through this though. There have been times in my life when I have questioned Mum’s ‘meanness’ to me when I was little – her constant reiteration of “you need to toughen up” and “just stop crying and get on with it” – but now I’m in the thick of things with my own offspring, this is what I need to do more of. Tough love. It’s probably what has led me to being a fairly robust adult. Without it, I wonder whether I would I have competed in tennis tournaments to jeers from mean girls from school. Would I have been able to hold my own in a boardroom of much older men? Would I ever have started Making Little People or That Works For Me? I doubt it.
Starting School….next year
This doesn’t help me with Girly no1 starting school though. I’m already planning – manically planning. How I can make this transition easier? We will talk about it lots. Buy an easy to open lunchbox. Meet lots of people in her class. Go there lots so she starts to feel comfortable. I wonder if we could invite her teacher to tea…..(jokes). (Kind of). I know that everyone goes through it and I won’t be the only stressing about it, I may be the only one stressing about it 18 months ahead of time though! Whichever way it goes I’m sure I will be that Mum weeping first in her car and then again at home on the sofa. Someone in this house needs to keep the back-to-school mantle burning!
Thanks for reading all the way to the end! And thank you so much to everyone for your kind words on my last post, The Miscarriage Rollercoaster. We are much, much better and as you see I have found a new thing to cry over! Believe it or not I’m actually quite a happy and chilled person, hard to get that from this blog isn’t it?! I always love your likes and shares so please do the honours if you have enjoyed. Until next time amigos!