When I wrote the hashtags I gave the image the temporary name of ‘Lying on my front again is so weird’. Sometimes the temporary name becomes permanent or often it’s just a reminder to think of something else along those lines.
Lying on my front again was weird, but I am also loving it – which isn’t so obvious through the image as showcasing a new love by lying on a hard wooden floor probably wasn’t the best idea.
It took me a bit of time to choose which image I wanted to use to represent the hashtags, but in the end I went for this one (obviously). I like the awkward hand peering out, though I’m not a fan of my remote being in shot. Tyra Banks would also be annoyed at my lack of neck, but whatever.
I just took it to test out where the camera was pointed, but I quite liked it. The stain on my dress (maybe I’d just done the washing up actually?) and my space socks. I only just realised today that one of them is inside out, which I guess says a lot about getting dressed with a young baby. The inside out sock was what sold having to post it.
So, expanding on some hashtags:
I had to read this a few times. I was like why won’t she? Why wouldn’t she? But reading on I realised that I meant she wouldn’t stay by herself much without getting upset.
It was nice to see them, though it’s odd to go to a place that you used to go to a lot before and realise how much the world has changed – people in masks, it being closed for now etc. I’d said to them that when my baby was born I was going to stop by a lot to see them and to make sure I was getting out for a walk. I’ve only stopped by a couple of times so far, but hopefully that will change soon.
At one point I was putting a little table on top of the dining table in order to be able to work standing up, but then a laptop stand that I ordered on Kickstarter MONTHS before arrived. I use both of them these days; I used the little table the other day to edit my dance videos whilst B was in a wrap. She fell asleep whilst I danced and I wanted to sort stuff out whilst she continued to sleep. I was worried that if I put her down she would wake up and I wouldn’t get stuff done for a while.
It looks like I managed to do the shoot an hour later (I couldn’t remember, I had to check when files were made).
I don’t think I slept on my front much, but like I said I never really thought about it so maybe I did. Perhaps I did as I had an urge to lie on my front from time to time, as I mention in the #IWantedToLieOnMyFrontAtTimesButObviouslyItWasImpossible hashtag.
Looking online it says it’s to do with a large vein down your back on the right side called the vena cava. It carries blood to your heart, which then goes to the baby. Apparently lying on your left side also helps with kidney and liver function, which means you should get less swelling in your ankles, feet and hands. I didn’t have much swelling, but I thought it might have been down to exercising a few times a day?
It would freak me out when I woke up on my back, though at times I was too tired to register how I had slept. I guess you’d know if you really had to roll over ASAP, but I mainly tried to sleep on my left until it was uncomfortable and I’d have to sit up to be able to switch to my right.
I was on a mat on the wooden floor and it felt pretty hard, and just really odd doing things that I hadn’t done for a long time. I think I’ve tried to go back to ‘normal’ exercise too quickly. I was doing a 30 days of yoga thing recently, but then I read more about Diastasis Recti and I think I need to work on closing that gap still.
The video above explains it a bit. I was doing it a while ago, but I didn’t take it that seriously.
Then I watched this video:
And I thought I better change these habits. I didn’t think that I was picking B up like how she demonstrates is wrong, but then I caught myself doing it 2 times today. I also haven’t been rolling to my side first, so that’s changing, and it also mentions slouching whilst feeding. If she had seen how I was feeding in hospital she would have been appalled… I slouch a lot though so I’m trying to correct that.
I’ve been using an app to remind me to do Kegels, and I think that may have helped a bit. I’m not sure, but at the hospital they said to do 10 sets of 10 today unless I want to regret not doing it when I’m older. I think it has made a difference as thinking about it lately when I’ve sneezed I haven’t been like ‘that was a close call’.
The doctor at my 8 week check said that breastfeeding can act as a natural contraceptive, but she recommends using other forms. I wouldn’t take the risk, particularly after hearing that a woman opposite me on the hospital ward was breastfeeding her newborn, whilst her 10 month old baby was at home. Maybe it was her plan, but I highly doubt it. If you don’t want that to be the case for you, then I’d suggest that you play safe…
I’m glad that I only (currently) have to talk about me crying once more and it’s not for another 5 more posts.
I’m elegantly wiping my nose in the photo, though I’ve just realised that it fits my love of hands in pictures. I like when they appear looking a bit odd. I’m guessing I probably was quite aware of how my hand looked. You can also see the long fingernail that in the end I cut as I was worried that I was going to accidentally poke B in the eye with it…
I wrote the text on my phone as I was upset and just wanted to write quickly, so I decided to not think about it in hashtags form. I could have changed it to be that way, but like I’ve said before with this project I want to experiment with different forms of writing if I feel like it.
So to comment on the text:
Just had a cry in the kitchen. I was sorting out lunch and I ate all my food in there too.
I cried in the kitchen, but I took the photo in the utility room, which is next to it. You don’t need to know that really, but in case someone who has been there is reading this I don’t want them to be like ‘excuse me but…’. Why did I take it there? I think I naturally gravitate towards a blank wall to take pictures and this was the nearest blank wall that meant I wasn’t showing my tears to anyone else. (Though I didn’t stand right next to it, so there is a bit of mirror creeping in but it makes the location more identifiable for me at least.) I think I also wrote the text in that room.
I ate my food in the kitchen as I wanted to stop crying before I sat down, and it obviously took me a while to.
I’m visiting family and I don’t like being told that I’m doing things wrong or don’t know what is wrong with my own baby. Okay I don’t know everything, but baby acne is a thing. And how I’m feeling goes beyond this one incident, it’s not the first time I’ve felt judged.
So B had a lot of milk spots (later confirmed by the doctor) and my Nan had never heard of them. They weren’t lovely to look at, but they got a lot worse in the week after (which is partially why I have another crying post). Milk spots are super common and don’t need any treatment, but after feeling not very confident with my mothering feeling judged about them really didn’t help.
It was hard after just being at home feeling like our parenting skills were being watched closely (as even usual people who would visit at/by this point like the health visitor weren’t able to because of Covid). I know people mean well when they give advice, but it’s not always welcome. Particularly if the baby is all well and good.
My life has completely changed, whereas Tiago has his job still. I have my art still, but with writing and pictures like this it makes me feel like I’m just making work about my own failures.
I guess it’s understandable that I initially found my new life weird and somewhat hard. It’s a massive life shift after things were pretty much the same for years and years (even with moving from London to Liverpool my life didn’t change that much). I realised during lockdown that I wouldn’t even get some kind of goodbye to my pre-baby life. I had done things for the last time whilst not being a mother that I hadn’t even realised were my last time – just simple things like going to a restaurant, to a gallery, to the cinema, on holiday etc. I’m not really upset about it, but it was a weird realisation.
I produce her food so feeding is stressful for me – am I producing enough milk? – whereas Tiago does not have the same feelings around it.
Things will be different when she starts to eat ‘normal’ food, but for now it is kind of odd that she relies on me to produce what she eats/drinks. Obviously formula exists, but for now I provide her food. It really is bizarre, but kind of cool.
I have started to breastfeed her more, which I guess is odd as by now people are perhaps doing the opposite – she is now 5 weeks old. Though tomorrow all her meals could just be delivered via bottle again. It depends on how me and my nipples are feeling.
It doesn’t matter what other people are doing. I am mainly breastfeeding her, but Tiago is again bottle feeding her whilst I write this. Fun fact: I haven’t put nipple cream on for a few days now so they must be hardening up. I remember a ‘Mum friend’ saying the other week that she doesn’t need to use it anymore and I was like ‘whoa’. I guess it’s not a big deal, but it’s been a noticeable thing for me. Before I used to rush to put it on after every feed.
I just want to sleep. I wake up feeling knackered, but then I feel so wide awake.
Yeah, I want to sleep now. This morning T bottle fed her whilst I slept a bit longer, but usually I wake up and sort B out and plan to go back to sleep. By the time I can sleep again though I’m usually feeling super awake.
I’m writing this as B snuffles on my boob and I need to take more time to appreciate her, as she has already grown up so fast.
We saw a friend today and she said how tiny B is, but B seems so big to me now. She’s definitely growing and changing day by day. I’m excited for the future, but I also don’t want her to grow up too fast.
Maybe making a project isn’t the best use of my time, but I need it to still feel like me and hopefully saying this stuff out loud in its full awkwardness will help someone else.
It is definitely therapeutic making my project and doing it makes me feel like me. This is what I do. I make work about myself and my life, gradually getting more honest about things and feeling more awkward about it. Though the project has changed, making my artwork is the main consistent thing that connects me to my ‘past life’.
I feel less apologetic about making this project though. ‘Oh Me, Oh Mãe’ (the title of it) and my pregnancy project are perhaps more relatable than previous series and I sincerely hope they might help someone.
I’ve learned so much since becoming pregnant – a bit about myself, but a lot about the human body. Things that you don’t really get told about until you ‘join the club’ or maybe I just was ignorant to a lot of things before.
It’s still early days and I have a lot to learn, but I’m excited. I just need to keep up a good life balance (as best as I can) and learn to rest more. Fingers crossed.
Whether to have the title as a simile or a metaphor? I went with metaphor…
Sometimes I focus so much on explaining the hashtags that I forget to talk about the photos (I am writing this after I already pressed publish.)
The idea with the picture is that I’m looking away/facing a wall and not showing you the expression on my face. I wasn’t trying to hide a teary face or anything, it just seemed fitting.
(You can also see how long the nail was on the little finger of my left hand. It looked horrible, but it became a weird thing of ‘how long can I grow this’, but I cut my nails in the end as I was worried that I would poke her in the eye with one of them.)
I have been thinking about this a bit and I think this is another reason why I chose to express rather than breastfeed so much. This meant that Tiago could feed her more and it allowed me to keep my distance. Perhaps I was overwhelmed, which seems understandable.
I think it was just such a bizarre thing and I couldn’t get my head around the fact that I had grown a human inside me and now they were here demanding my attention and my body. I hadn’t needed to be this responsible in my whole life and now I had to be. I hope she doesn’t read this in the future and think I disliked her or something. I just needed some time to adjust and get my head around her existence and what was expected of me, and now I have.
I say think too much. Sometimes I am not sure, but other times I know and I try to distance myself from my feelings a little. It is hard saying things about myself that make me look bad, but as always I admit it in hope that it helps someone else.
Yep. In the past people I know had babies and I ran away a bit. To be fair it was because I thought they wanted time to be in a baby bubble, but after having a kid myself I was keen to get out and socialise though I didn’t always feel confident. (Covid got and still gets in the way of this though.) I also just didn’t feel confident around newborns, even though I was 10+ when my little sister was born and I was confident with her then. That was a long time ago though. I felt nervous holding my niece and being around her when she was 6 months old, but I quickly got used to her to be fair.
I just need time to adapt, though sometimes I only need minutes and other times I need weeks apparently. Sleep deprivation probably didn’t help speed things up either.
Oh I used a simile for the hashtag, but a metaphor for the title. Interesting. Having her smile and react to me really is amazing though and it has made a huge difference.
This afternoon I was singing her Old MacDonald Had A Farm (as an app I have said it’s good for them to see the shapes your mouth pulls) and then Hey Baby by DJ Otzi (quite randomly, not sure where that song came from in my head). Whilst I was singing she was staring at me intently and then started to touch my face a lot. Maybe the face touching was not that intentional, but it seemed like she was exploring my face.
I really can’t wait until she giggles. A health visitor came today and they asked if B is chuckling. I said no, but she said she meant looking like she was chuckling but not making the sound. She does do that at times.
She is over 2 months now so it’s not too long to wait! It was nice to just have a good playtime with her this afternoon, and now that I am writing these blog posts in the evening when Tiago looks after her for a bit I feel more relaxed in the day.
I definitely feel better. I haven’t cried in 2 weeks, which was probably close to when she started to smile properly. I’ve also got a better work/life balance going on at the moment and I’m feeling productive. This answers the last hashtag (#IThinkIFeelRubbishBecauseThisIsMyFirstShootInNearlyAWeekAndIFeelMyWorstWhenIAmNotMakingWork).
Just realised that I spelt judgmental wrong (I put judgemental) and so I had to replace it in 6 places… but yeah people are judgmental and I judge people too, though I’m trying to do less of that. I generally try to put myself in other people’s shoes and think about how they feel and why they act the way they do or do certain things.
It definitely is hard admitting this stuff/saying it out loud to a possible audience. I thought about deleting it but it defeats the point of this blog really. I know I’m not the first person to feel this way and so it feels somewhat important to share it. When I say jealous though it’s not in a mean/hateful way though, it’s more of a casual jealousy if that makes sense?
Maybe this is why I felt distant too? Now we sometimes have good quality time as a family. It’ll be nice when she is the age where she can give and receive hugs properly. Family hugs! (heart emoji)
Yep, quality time. So important. I find myself singing the books to her and like I said I sang to her a lot earlier. I think my singing voice is getting a little better which is a nice side effect, though maybe I really sound like a screeching cat. I think quality time will get even more special as she gets older and responds more. If she’s how she is now after 9 weeks, then I know she will be doing so much more very soon. It’s exciting! These hashtags are quite negative, but I really am more positive about everything and more excited about watching her grow.
Referencing my blog in my work, how fun. I definitely feel like I’m enjoying the blog more these days though. This is post 14 of the current 27 that need to be made, so at this rate it will probably take me at least 3 weeks to catch up on myself depending on how much I shoot and if I skip some days.
This blog is a really good exercise in just saying what I think as I don’t have time to make up lies or skip around things too much.
The hashtags are a good exercise in themselves, but expanding on them like I do in this blog is another level in terms of pushing myself out of my comfort zone and feeling confident with my words.
Hearing friends who just had babies say that they read certain blog posts really pushes me on too.
I am aware that it looks like I am just touching/cupping my boob. I am actually pretending to hold B whilst I am feeding her, though like I said I’m not sure how accurate this is without her being there. (My arm should probably be lower.)
I seem to cover the same stuff everyday really, but I guess that’s the reality of looking after a newborn – they poop, they eat, they sleep, and they grow. I just looked to see when they stop being a newborn and the internet says 2 months, and she’s now an ‘infant’.
I’ve only breastfed in public once and I think I was wearing this dress. It has a lot of marks on it. I might have just done the washing up, but I can’t remember – it’s quite possible as I was always sterilising bottles and I generally do the washing up. Exciting facts.
Today I felt a big need to get out and talk to other people. We had our last online baby class today (of a course that we booked on to). I started to log on as class was starting though, had my camera off (to be fair today it was so hot that I was in my underwear) and log off before the chat started. I feel a bit awkward with some things. I want to just sit and chat crap with people in real life…
Today I didn’t feel very confident with going out for a walk, though I’m not sure why. Maybe hormones? I’m yet to change her nappy in public (well in a public toilet or somewhere that isn’t someone’s home).
I breastfeed in the night now, which lets Tiago sleep. It seems fair as he is the one ‘going to work’ (he is still mostly working from home), though sometimes at 6am I will ask him to bottle feed her if I am super tired and it’s been a long night. He is bottle feeding her now whilst I write this.
I don’t feel bad about it anymore. It’s made our lives a lot easier and it keeps her happy too. I do call it a chuxa (shoosha) though, as that’s the Portuguese word for it (so Tiago calls it that) and I prefer saying it to dummy (possibly because I do feel a bit awkward about using it still).
This lasted one day. I’m better on Instagram, but with other platforms I don’t really see the point though I probably should.
I say that I can’t believe I’m a mother in every post, but it is true that it also feels like she has always been around (though I know she hasn’t). Thinking about life before her, it just seems so weird that I didn’t really have any responsibilities. Having a baby in lockdown has been good for not feeling like I’m missing out on things. I’m quite happy being at home and chilling with my family – apart from when I get a bit stir crazy I guess.
Because of the heat I’ve been feeding her lying down more, which is amazing but I do want to keep up with my arm strength.
I failed doing my 7 days of yoga challenge (I didn’t like the program as they weren’t curated to help you build up to harder things everyday), so I decided to do a 30 day one instead, which I’ve done a few times before.
I missed out day 2, but I managed to do the last 2 days. I even moved the cot this morning so I could do yoga where it was whilst she continued to sleep on the bed, and I could keep an eye on her. The lying down feeding position is great for her then falling asleep and staying asleep…
This seems like a bit of an odd comment now, but I thought it might be useful for someone who just had a baby to know. I feel like no one really talks about these things, and before being pregnant I didn’t know that you can bleed for up to 6 weeks after birth. It wasn’t painful like a period though, which was what I was worried about. I just got reusable pads after a while as I was getting through the disposable ones quite quickly.
I need to start looking at getting reusable nappies again as every time I change a nappy I think of it sitting in a landfill, but it’s such a minefield. There are so many different brands and I’ve already spent so many hours researching, but I’m still not sure.
If I had known that I was going to cover B’s face with carpet, then I wouldn’t have deleted a test shot of the carpet without us lying there… I still think it’s nice even though the colours of the pasted bit don’t match up (I took that from an outtake of just a picture of B).
I thought it would be weird to see people again, but it was like we had never been apart. We weren’t going to do the trip so soon, but visiting rules changed and we had accidentally left B in her car seat for longer than we thought we were meant to at a garden party. It was accidental because we were so stressed about being out of the house with her for the first time that we forgot how to parent. She seemed fine and so we thought we were up for the drive. She ended up sleeping the whole way there and back, and we didn’t need to stop as there was less traffic so the journeys were shorter.
I thought about deleting the bit about my fear, but this is my kind of diary and that is how I felt. We used to go to visit her every few weeks, so it was weird not being able to see her; we had to make do with talking on the phone everyday instead.
We sat at a reasonable distance with hand sanitiser on the table. It’s weird thinking about carefree we used to be… Only one friend (neither of the friends mentioned here) saw me heavily pregnant in real life, which is so weird.
We’ve started to go to restaurants in the last couple of weeks, but that’s only because I don’t like missing a bargain (there is a scheme in the UK called Eat Out To Help Out). We try to be careful about where we go and the places are a lot less crowded than they used to be which is good. It’s nice to build up our confidence with going out, but I still feel a bit nervous (because of Covid and because of having a baby).
When she is sleeping I often forget that I am a mother. I’m going to try to not say in every post that I still can’t believe I’m one…
She is growing up so fast and we see small changes everyday. When she smiles a lot it makes me cry tears of joy (just writing this is making me emotional). She is using her hands more (touching, grabbing etc) and she seems to have discovered that she has a tongue. Earlier she had a bath and she was kicking her legs in it, which she hasn’t done before.
Though we were just there for a couple of days and I did not go into the garden once. I think I get worried about what to dress her in, though really a few minutes in the garden if I made the wrong decision wouldn’t be too bad right? I’m still building up my confidence with certain things.
I had originally thought that I’d take a picture called Lying With My Child on My Childhood Bed, though my parents thought we should go in my older sister’s room as there is more space. The duvet cover was new to me and yeah it didn’t seem right. Then when I was in the living room I looked at the carpet and I thought it made more sense as it really says ‘my parents’ house’ to me.
I feel like I should add that we moved to that house when I was 7, but it’s the place that I’ve lived in for the longest amount of time in my life. I guess I spent more childhood years (0-7) at the previous house, but who cares, right?
I always check over the hashtags before posting to make sure I’ve made no mistakes and I was confused why I only had 29 when you can post a maximum of 30 to Instagram. Then I read them and realised that I was planning to check at the time. I messaged my Mum today saying ‘random question…’ and realised that I was about to spread fake news about my parents’ living room carpet when she replied. My bad.
As you can’t see B’s face – she is looking quite cheeky and biting on her clothes a little bit. I think not sharing her face is the right thing to do for us, though sometimes I do just want the world to see how cute she is. (If I tell her she is cute I also tell her how smart, strong etc she is as well.)
When she is older if people are still interested in these pictures then she can decide if she wants her face to be revealed or not, but for now a lot of people will just have to imagine what she looks like. I think she looks a lot like how Tiago did when he was a kid at the moment and friends say that she looks like him too, but he can’t see it.
Hopefully she’ll get to meet more of our friends and family soon. Who knows when she’ll get to meet Tiago’s family, but I hope it is sooner rather than later. We’re going to apply for her passport soon then see how things are and how we feel.
This was the first summer (and year so far) that we haven’t been to Portugal since we met and I just want to swim in the sea so badly. I can’t wait to take B swimming for the first time. She seems to like the bath and like I said before, she was kicking her legs in it today.
I’m a bit of a snob about swimming in chlorine as it dries my skin out, so she’ll have to wait for now. I’ve already bought her a swimwear sunsuit for 1 year olds (hello sale), but hopefully we won’t be waiting that long.
Tiago keeps asking me how many people are reading it. I have analytics, but I haven’t really been looking as this is a good diary for myself. I do hope that other people like it though and that things I share might be useful/reassuring.
I have called the doctors for B 3 times now; once for her eye and twice for her skin. Since they’re all phone consultations first it’s so easy and less stressful than getting ready and going out all masked up. I’ve just had to send photos so they can see, but once they said I could come in if I wanted. We didn’t go but she’s been to the doctors for jabs, then her 8 week check-up, and she’s also had a hospital appointment for her feet. She was referred for her feet and hips when she was born, which were both because she was breech. We’re so lucky to have the NHS. (Yes, we need to protect it.)
A health visitor is coming to see us this week for the first time. She’s called at least once before, but this will be the first time meeting her face to face. Pre-Covid we would have already met her, and I think she would have come at around 6 weeks. B is nearly 9 weeks old.
I can imagine that it’s weird for people with a newborn who had a baby in non-Covid times previously. We currently only know about parenting during a pandemic, but I think we’re doing quite well.
My Mum and older sister got a lot of messages asking for help/advice in the early days, and a WhatsApp group of new mums that I’m part of is super useful for sharing and comparing. So thanks to all of them for their help!
Before B was born we thought we had everything we needed and then we just bought SO MUCH STUFF. I think opening packaging, removing tape and flattening boxes didn’t help my hands. I stopped using the gloves a few weeks ago (so yeah it didn’t last long). I need to get to it though as I am starting to hand wash more clothing (hello sour milk bibs) and my hands feel quite dry now. In B’s pushchair organiser I keep a bottle of hand sanitiser and a tube of hand cream…
Again, I talk about this a lot in this post, but breastfeeding is definitely going better. I think my nipples are starting to harden up a bit (hurrah) and it really is easier just breastfeeding her in the night.
We are still bottle-feeding her a little in the evening so it’s easier to give her her vitamin D and so Tiago can spend more time with her.
Yesterday we went out for dinner and it was the first time that she’d been awake during a meal. She was super chill and the service was slow, which was great as it gave us time to go through her routine. Tiago changed her nappy as I was a bit nervous about doing it (because of Covid – I’ve been avoiding public toilets), but it was great as the men’s and women’s toilets both had nappy changing facilities. I’ve only breastfed once so far in public, so I need to work on that. Last night we both just fed her with a bottle.
This is also why you see a bit of bum (sorry). In the first pictures of the shoot I was just pulling my top down over my pants, and in these I think I am pushing my top down a bit with the gloves.
I like not changing my clothes for shoots now as it’s more authentic/honest. I’m usually just sat at home in my underwear or with no leggings/trousers on as it’s too hot, but it must have been a bit cooler this day. I keep a dressing gown by the door just in case it’s needed, though I actually haven’t had to use it in a while.
Here are all 3 photos side by side (if you are reading this on a big enough screen).
One probably would have been enough to illustrate it, but I like all 3 and they show quite well how I do shoots and the adjustments I make with my poses. Shame I’m not in exactly the same position in the first one like I am in the other two, but I didn’t think at the time that I’d be choosing 3 images.
To end the post I thought I should comment on the title of the images – I Feel Like I Am Definitely A Different Person – I Am Wearing Cleaning Gloves.
I feel like I have changed so much since giving birth and I took these pictures less than a month after she was born. I’ve always been fairly messy, but I definitely like things to be tidier and more organised these days.
I need to do a post/picture on all the ways that I have changed, but this was one small thing (wearing gloves that I need to get back to wearing).
I look forward to continuing to change and hopefully it’s all for the best.
Well I cut Tiago’s hair on 28th June, even though hairdressers reopened on 4th July. We were being careful about going to places and I think Tiago was a bit wary of going somewhere to get his hair cut.
I felt inspired after mentioning in an Instagram story that he needed his hair cut, and receiving a few replies along the lines of ‘do it yourself’.
There is an hour between the before and after photos.
Tiago says why couldn’t I have taken an after photo without hair all over him, but it was nearly 11pm when I took them. I’m surprised we got through it without B waking up and I think I just wanted to tidy up and go to bed.
He asked me to crop the first after photo so his nipples wouldn’t be on show, so I cropped the before too to make them as similar in size as I could for a side by side comparison.
His hair and beard were both getting too long though… I thought it would be really weird adjusting to his new look, but it felt pretty normal straight away.
Usually when he has his hair cut I don’t like it as it has that just cut look about it – you know too neat. I think because I didn’t know how to give it that proper just cut though I liked it straight away. I’m definitely not great at cutting hair, but it wasn’t bad for my first attempt!
I’m always nervous before doing things for the first time. I feel like this applies to all areas of my life, but more recently with having a baby. Everything I did in hospital I’m very comfortable with, but things I hadn’t done – breastfeeding lying down, washing her, bathing her etc – I’m either still building my confidence with or haven’t mastered yet. Everyday I’m getting more confident with mothering though.
The feeling about the bad energy has passed. I also remembered that I have had a cyst on my head for over a year. It doesn’t look like it is going anywhere and my hair hides it a bit at the moment, so I don’t think I’ll be cutting my hair off anytime soon. A tidy up would be good though.
I’ve been going to the same hairdressers on and off since I was a kid. I’d love to get a haircut and show them B, but I think if I go I will have to go alone because of restrictions. Plus the chances of her sleeping through the appointment would be small I think – she’s capable of it but with timings and random factors it’s never guaranteed.
I feel inspired to book an appointment though (thanks blogging) and maybe they can just see B outside from a 2m distance?
This is a short post with a couple of photos from our first family portrait session. I feel a bit bad that it took us 2 weeks after she was born to do it, but I’ve been meaning to do another one since and it’s already been 6 weeks.
I tried putting different things over B’s face. A blue box seemed a bit too boring, so I tried drawing on them. Originally I drew a lot of flowers, but it looked a bit too much. I still want to keep experimenting with what to put over her face though, so these might not be the final photos.
But here is the first photo of us as a family – not long after she was born – with a boring white box over her face:
We are still going to bed too late… Tiago will often say ‘okay let’s go to bed soon’. I’ll try to settle B, T will fall asleep waiting and I’m up until 1. Last night I think we managed to go to bed at 11pm though. We need to work on making the room a lot darker a lot earlier as think this might help. Sometimes if we’re not ready to sleep we don’t push things though. I’d rather feed her a little more in hope that she’ll then let me sleep longer.
I still need to learn to rest more. With the blog I need to learn to be more efficient, especially if I want to catch up and post my project in real-ish time. Sometimes I feel like I need to explain/share a lot though – like with yesterday’s post about feeding.
Some days I plan to do a lot of work, but I end up faffing and I don’t completely relax either. So, I’m trying to get better with planning my time – working well when B is asleep or T is looking after her, and then having better quality time with B when she’s awake. I’ve already failed with the planning as I haven’t allocated time for relaxing/resting when B is asleep too.
I was guilty of not having a good life balance before having a baby, so now it is more important than ever. She has already grown so much and time is flying by…
In my previous post there is a photo of my crying whilst pumping/expressing. I think I already had this post’s picture in mind before taking that one, but they are quite different looking pictures so I don’t think it matters that they are next to each other chronologically. This one is almost like a mugshot and has little emotion, though I feel more exposed in it.
Well I guess I am showing more of my body so it makes sense. I’ve just seen an Instagram message from a guy asking if he can send me a picture of his semen, so posting pictures like this does worry me. Yes, I’m showing parts of my boobs and talking about them a lot, but it’s not in a sexual way. I know that people don’t need an excuse to send gross messages, but seriously the most recent posts in my feed are me crying, me feeling shit, me singing to my baby, my husband with my baby, me dancing with my baby and my post-partum belly. Which part of that screams ‘please ask me if I want to see photos of your semen’?
(He’s since deleted the messages, but I screenshotted them. For anyone who might be unsure – before you press send, would you send it to your Grandma? If not then don’t send it to me. Thanks.)
Anyways, everyday we seem to have a different feeding journey. At the time of this photo B was 2 weeks old, and now writing this she is 8 weeks. I really need to write shorter posts so I can catch up and actually post things in real time…
This is a post about our feeding journey so far – starting with the hospital and then how it’s been at home. I hope that it will be helpful for someone who plans to breastfeed or is interested in comparing experiences. I’m sure I’ve missed out loads of things too, but feel free to get in touch with me about anything.
Also feel like I should state that I’m not an expert and I just wanted to share my/our feeding story. A list of helplines and websites for breastfeeding support is available on the NHS website.
This post unintentionally coincided with National Breastfeeding Week – Happy NBW!
(It feels weird saying Happy NBW as you’ll soon see that my journey hasn’t been happy at times…)
I was only planning on breastfeeding, but B had problems latching after she was born and we were originally kept in the hospital longer because of that. Due to Covid apparently they are slower to discharge people who are having problems breastfeeding as there is less face to face support available. This makes sense as I had so many different women touching my boobs (one at a time, don’t get too excited). A video call isn’t the same as someone physically trying to help.
I was in hospital for four nights and after my milk came in on day three I started to express using the hospital pump. No one told me you could pump colostrum (first milk) with them, which I later flagged up as that could have saved me some stress. I didn’t think you could as I’d read that as you produce so little colostrum, a lot of it just gets stuck in the parts rather than making it into the bottle. I guess this is only with certain pumps and now I know that this isn’t the case with hospital grade pumps (or so I believe).
With colostrum you can get syringes (I think I called the hospital or Liverpool BAMBIS – babies and mums breastfeeding information and support – for them) to start trying to collect it from 37 weeks. Some people have more success than others. I tried, but didn’t feel very confident, and then I ended up having a baby when I was 37 weeks and 5 days… I did try again to collect some when I was sat in the first maternity ward waiting for my surges to get stronger as a friend said she did that, but my mind was elsewhere.
(After birth) In hospital I found the syringes fiddly, but someone would help me collect the colostrum. I say someone as I’m not sure what people’s job titles were, though I guess most were midwives and there were a lot of student midwives. I was also visited by women who work/volunteer for BAMBIS. Everyone was so helpful that I thought about training as a breastfeeding specialist to help other women.
I found that one boob was more productive than the other, though she favoured the one that was less so. The productive one would collect a syringe full (1ml) in no time at all, whereas the other one would get 0.3ml with some struggle. You then empty the syringe close to the inside (obviously) of the cheek if I remember correctly.
After a day (at least) I remembered that a friend mentioned expressing into cups (special cups, not kitchen cups) so I asked for one of those. This was so much easier and again I flagged this up, and they said it should have been mentioned at the first check-in. Only the midwife was allowed to give B the colostrum with the cup (I would have been too scared to do it anyways). At first I didn’t realise that she could be fed with the cup, so I was sucking up the colostrum with the syringes.
Then once my milk came in I used ‘The Beast’.
I was still trying to breastfeed, but it was difficult as B’s latch wasn’t great, so I found it easier just to express and bottle feed her. I think by this point my confidence had also gone, but I knew other new mums had been having issues with breast feeding and it wasn’t just me.
I guess I just expected for it to be easy as it’s such a natural thing.
I was a bit scared to bottle feed and wind her in the beginning, so I made them show me a few times before I did. They seemed so rough with the bottle teat as I thought it was solid, but actually it was quite soft and flexible. Soon I got confident though and I had a good routine going on.
I was told to feed her every 3 hours, so I’d get a bottle of my milk out of the fridge half an hour-ish before to let it warm up to room temperature, wake her up (if she hadn’t woke up by herself), feed her and then pump and put the new milk in the fridge. At first I thought I wasn’t allowed in the room with the fridge, but once I knew I was then it was nice that my world was extended beyond the ward I was in. I took great delight (loser) in going there to get all my supplies – new bottles, teats – and to wash the pump parts, and to fill up my water bottle.
(I wasn’t allowed visitors due to Covid restrictions so being able to walk into a room opposite the one I was in seemed quite exciting. Later on I learned I was allowed to go outside to see people, but I wouldn’t have been able to take B so it would have been stressful. Ward visitors would have been useful for holding B and letting me sleep a little…)
Like I said earlier I had only planned to breastfeed. A friend had given us an electric pump (thanks Rebecca) and we’d bought some bottles and a teat just in case, but I didn’t think I would use it all anytime soon. However as I’d pumped and bottle fed in the hospital I felt confident doing that (and the pump was super easy to figure out).
I did keep trying to breastfeed (and now I’m not trying, I’m succeeding), but I’d lost my confidence and when I did try I got sore nipples quickly because of her latch, so I was mainly expressing and we were bottle feeding.
The teats at the hospital were just ‘normal’, but the one we bought (and similar ones by other brands) is meant for babies that are being breastfed too.
Milk will easily come out of the ‘normal one’ milk, but with the breastfeeding mimicking ones the baby has to make a vacuum with their mouth in order to get some.
It took us a couple of days to get confident with the new teat, but once we figured it out we were fine.
In the hospital they’d mentioned the ‘paced feeding’ approach with the regular teats to mimic breast-feeding. I’m not an expert on all of this, but to me the paced feeding way can be likened to eating with chopsticks – eating slower so you give your stomach time to realise that you’re getting full. You’re basically letting them drink for a bit (with the bottle held flat rather than tilted up), then stopping the flow of milk by taking the bottle away completely or tilting the bottle down to with the teat still in their mouth.
(B hadn’t really been sick from feeding until one day last week, when I had been breastfeeding her a lot as I was a bit anxious about going out and her maybe getting hungry.)
Anyways, like in the picture I usually express by pumping on one side then using a manual suction pump on the other side. I read a breastfeeding support group comment the other day that said you shouldn’t use the suction element of the manual pump until 6 weeks, but I’ve been doing it from the beginning? And then I swap and pump on the other side. A double pump is probably easier/quicker (and I read that it can produce more milk), but the way I do it also works.
When you pump or feed with one boob the other one will leak (like in the picture below), so the manual suction pump will collect the excess. It’s also a good way to transition from breastfeeding on one feed to bottle feeding with the next, or a future feed if you don’t collect enough from one feed and collect some from multiple feeds.
I would say that I got kind of stuck with expressing rather than breastfeeding. Since she doesn’t do much at this age, feeding her is a good way to spend time with her and bond. Tiago’s been very supportive and I think perhaps his keenness to feed her also made me want to pump more (I’m not blaming him). When he feeds her it means I know I have a little time to do something, like on the 5th when we got home from dinner, and she needed feeding so T fed her whilst I did a photo shoot and then pumped after.
I was giving myself so much extra work by having to sterilise everything each time though, and in the night Tiago would be feeding her while I was pumping. In hindsight all being awake at 3am isn’t great, especially when Tiago has work in the morning. I’d also then have to sterilise stuff and often I’d wait for the machine to be done. I’d take the lid off, then wait until it had cooled down enough for me to take things out (I burn myself easily), so I wouldn’t get back to sleep for a long time.
I thought I should try to breastfeed everyday at least once, though sometimes it just didn’t happen and I would go 2 days without trying. It has gotten easier now that she is older and her mouth is a bit bigger. I don’t always have to guide her to the nipple and help her get a good latch; she can do it herself now.
So eventually I started to breastfeed during the night. Sometimes my nipples would be sore, especially as I wasn’t use to breastfeeding so much so I’ve started to use my nipple shields lately when it feels necessary.
I’ve now moved to mainly breastfeeding during the day/early night as well, but T will often offer to feed her after work/in the early evenings, especially if he feels like he hasn’t seen her much.
A friend also told us (and the NHS backs it up) that breast milk fed babies need to take a vitamin D supplement. There are many different brands out there and we have one that seems easier to put in a bottle of milk, though you can put it on your nipple. So this is another reason why we usually give her at least one bottle of expressed milk a day. Maybe when it runs out I’ll try a different one…
Everyday is a different feeding day though. Today (7th) it’s so hot that we’ve just bottle fed her. I breastfed her at midnight and 4am, then she woke up at 7 and since Tiago was awake I asked him to feed her with milk that was in the fridge. I didn’t sleep much as I was aware that I needed to pump, which I eventually did at 9am. Then because it was such a hot day it seemed better to just keep bottle feeding her. I stop and start so much with these posts that now it’s 9pm and I’m pumping and I feel really sweaty.
It’s now 10pm and it’s super hot, but I think I’ll try to breastfeed her in the night just to make my life easier by not having to sterilise a lot. She also hasn’t slept much today, so I’m hoping she’ll sleep for a long time tonight but we’ll see. (8am update- She went to sleep after midnight in the end, but slept until 6am when I breastfed her. I changed her nappy, fed her a little more and she’s asleep again.)
I used to pump every 3 hours during the day, but now I know that my milk production is good and there is quite a bit in the fridge I have been doing it every 4. After she slept for 7 hours in a row last week I also know that I can not pump or feed for that long and it’s also fine. Around 3 hours though I will start to feel a little pain for about 30 seconds if I’m awake which is quite odd.
After coming home from hospital I’d get calls from the breastfeeding support service and they told me that I should try to breastfeed first before expressing. I know on the calls that they were trying to help, but I felt like I had to justify myself to them a lot. Generally the advice you get can be quite different depending on who you talk to, and sometimes you learn things after you’ve already done them – someone said that babies shouldn’t have dummies before 6 weeks until breastfeeding is established but a midwife gave B a dummy in the hospital (with my permission) when she was having photo therapy as she just wouldn’t settle in the machine. By the time I heard about the 6 week thing I’d already been giving her a dummy for at least 2 weeks I think.
In the early days I was warned a lot about over producing – pumping can make this happen apparently. My boobs would get quite engorged and I’d feel lumps, but massaging them in the shower would really help. Just be careful when you get out as you might find that you’re leaking… (If you can’t shower then dunking them in water is meant to be good.)
I’ve said before that if we feel guilty about things (that are legal and reasonable), it’s only because people are judgemental about something that has nothing to do with them. Whether you breastfeed, bottle feed, formula feed, breast milk feed or a mix of feed, people will have things to say about it. As long as your baby is getting fed in some form and is putting on weight then that’s great.
You just do what’s best for you and your family.
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This post is about two images as I took them a day apart and they are about the same thing.
Note: I am not looking for sympathy or comments being like ‘you’re not a shit mother’. These are from over a month ago, and though I’ve made a similar image/text in the last week I know I only feel that way when I’m tired.
(Knowing you’re tired is one thing, being able to sleep is another.)
Why share though? I want to be as honest as possible with my mothering experiences, even if it is embarrassing/awkward at times in hope that it helps at least one person.
I feel like it’s a little late to be explaining this now after so many personal posts, but this feels like a different level of personal.
I took these photos on my phone. Perhaps I should be more bothered about the colour balance, but one is in the bathroom with no natural light and the other has all the natural light but film we put on the windows a few months ago makes pictures blue. I like presenting them as my phone took them (well with a little brightness/contrast editing).
This project is supposed to be just quick and easy at times with honest portrayals and whatever camera suits. When you’re crying/upset and need sleep you don’t want to set up your ‘studio’, but I guess most people wouldn’t photograph themselves either… It’s just so easy to take a couple of snaps with your phone.
Why do I photograph myself like this? Good question. My work is very therapeutic for me and in both cases I just thought ‘I should photograph myself’ as I’ve been photographing myself for years. My photos generally come with text now so I’m aware I have to write something – (well I don’t have to but I choose to).
The text that accompany the photos are freewritten – just like my hashtags usually are. I wrote them in emails addressed to myself on my phone and I quickly gave them subjects, which I then decided to use as titles for the photos. Writing the text was more therapeutic than taking the images as it allowed me to vent.
I was writing quite long diary entries in my phone during my pregnancy, but stopped not long after giving birth as it was too much work. I now have a line a day diary (more like 5 lines), where I write more about motherhood than I did about being pregnant in my diary before (I mainly wrote about it in my pregnancy project). It’s a 5 year diary, so it will be interesting comparing the years as there are 5 years to a page.
With these pictures though I wanted to keep the text as I wrote it which is why it is ‘normal text’ instead of hashtags. I could have easily changed it into hashtags, but I’m keen to try different writing styles with this project too (though I think so far these two texts are the odd ones out).
Moving on to other things.
Paternity leave is mentioned in both texts. It’s true that paternity in the UK is rubbish, though I guess some companies might be more generous (and whether or not they take it all is another thing – Why Dads Don’t Take Paternity Leave from the New York Times which is a follow-up to a 2019 article. Yes it’s about the US, but I think the situation is similar to the UK).
Tiago got one week of full pay and then he would have got one week of statutory, so he used a week of annual leave instead since we hadn’t been anywhere due to the pandemic (and so he wouldn’t lose money). His leave started whilst I was in hospital so he spent a few days of it alone, which was a shame as he missed out on a few days with B. (It was nice to come home to a clean flat with plenty of food in the fridge though.)
Birth is so unpredictable and it’s good that we weren’t in for longer. I know people who spent most of their paternity alone as they weren’t allowed to go back to work once they knew their partner and baby would be staying in hospital…
Luckily Tiago was still working from home once his leave was over as I don’t think I would have been confident enough to be home alone with B. (Massive respect to those raising a child by themselves.) It was reassuring knowing he was in the flat – though in another room. He only left home to go somewhere for work for the first time since before lockdown a couple of weeks ago, but still works from home a lot like he did before everyone’s world get turned upside down.
I now try to make sure I’m going for a walk everyday. It makes such a difference getting out, though it can sometimes be a faff as I like for B to have just been fed and changed. Lately she stays awake for the whole of the walks, but is quite happy just daydreaming. She barely slept yesterday during the day, and typically fell asleep at the end of the walk but woke up after a minute of being back in the flat.
I mention feeding a lot in the text, but it is something I’ll be talking about a lot in my next post.
‘Though what mother stands in the bathroom typing this instead of hurrying to spend time with her kid / I need to fix my priorities‘
This is something I have talked about in a more recent teary picture/hashtag set, as well as finding it difficult when she hadn’t started to smile on purpose yet. Now that she smiles it feels a little more rewarding as before she only showed emotion when she was upset. I guess they smile on accident with wind and pooping early on as otherwise it would make things a lot harder. I love making people laugh and I think babies laughing is one of the best sounds in the world, so I can’t wait to hear her giggle for the first time.
So after reviewing these pictures and text, and thinking about similar examples from recently – and even how I felt in the evening yesterday – I need to look after myself better.
Only 2 days ago I read a BBC article by Mark Savage about Melanie C (yes, from the Spice Girls) that had a great quote about her and motherhood:
‘”Being a mum was so liberating because for the first time in my adult life, it wasn’t all about me,” she says. “It made me not only realise I had a huge responsibility to her but I have a huge responsibility to myself. In being her teacher, I had to treat myself better.”‘
I’m working on my life balance, but it’s still early days. I guess step one is being aware of the need for change, but now I just need to get on with it.
This week I’m trying to do a 7 day yoga challenge. Last week I did 3 short yoga videos and then none for a few days, so I just need to give myself at least 10 minutes a day to stretch and look after my body. The videos are only 15 minutes so its a good way to get back into it, and I like the idea of challenges as it helps motivate me.
(We all slept for 6+ hours straight last night, so we fed B, then I did the day two video at 6am whilst I knew I had the chance as she slept on Tiago.)
If I look after myself better, then I can look after B better and then I’m sure we’ll all feel better.
What do you do to look after yourself?
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