(I wrote this post on 8th November. I’ve been dreading sharing it as the photo is so bad.)
I know recently that I said something along the lines of ‘at least I’m not taking pictures of myself crying anymore.’
(See two posts ago and my hashtag ‘#ThankfullyMyFirstInstinctIsNoLongerToTakeAPhotoOfMyselfCrying’)
I think at the moment I just feel quite overwhelmed one minute and frustrated the next, though I guess they’re the same thing.
I worry that I am failing B, but then I feel stressed that I am unable to make work.
This weekend we have been trying to make space for me to ‘do my own thing’. Poor Tiago is tired from a week of work and trying to give me some breaks from mothering, then he has few breaks at the weekend.
This morning we gave B a bath and I stayed in the bath a bit after while he got B dressed. He said he was jealous of me, but if he was by himself he wouldn’t be. I know exactly what he means. If he’s not around then I’m fine, but if he’s close by I get jealous of whatever he is doing. We both know we’re being stupid, but it’s how we feel.
I should have just had my 10 minutes in bed and relaxed, instead of taking some bad photos of myself and writing some text. As per usual though I do feel better after I’ve written something, and I feel like it’s important to show the realities of parenting. I know I’m not the only one who feels like this, so hopefully it might make someone else feel better.
Tiago always mentions a friend who once said he was tempted to book a day off work and go and sleep in a hotel, while his wife would think he was at work. This morning T was talking about going to a spa hotel for a weekend and just sleeping, relaxing and watching bad TV. Sounds great.
I think I just panicked. Thinking it though she only has a month and a bit until I plan to start giving her ‘normal food’. I am quite excited for the new phase and then I do not need to worry about my milk so much. So many babies are brought up on formula and they’re fine. She is still having some breastmilk a day. It’s so hard knowing what is best for her when we haven’t seen a ‘professional’ lately and B can’t talk.
Today we put some spoons in the fridge and though they warm up quick in her mouth she seemed to like them.
They’re mainly under her arms. It’s probably from where we pick her up and her clothes rub against her skin. We’re putting cream on the patches but I still feed bad.
It’s not the world’s best picture, but I only took a few. One was blah, one showed me licking the tear with my tongue (possibly interesting but odd) or this one which actually shows the tear but is a bit blurry. I guess the blurriness shows my hurried state these days – taking a few quick pictures in the bathroom then running back to my baby.
It’s such an amazing feeling to see her smiling at me; I’m getting emotional just writing this.
I wrote a post about my image/hashtags called My Baby Is A Brick Wall (14th July 2020), which talks about that I think I’ll find motherhood easier/better when B smiles and it is definitely true. Before it was hard when she didn’t show me any positive emotion, but obviously now that she does it makes me cry too – though in a good way.
Today B had some more injections and the person administering them (I never know the job titles of medical professionals) said it’s a shame that she never gets any babies smiling at her now because she has to wear a mask. I don’t think B just gets confused when I wear one, but it is true that she smiles less as me smiling at her usually triggers her to smile.
I have a hand movement for each vowel now. I’ll have to make a video of it and put it on my Instagram at some point, but without B as I don’t show her face. (Maybe I’ll get T to pretend to be B.)
I read that they like Old Macdonald Had A Farm, because of the vowel bit in the song. I sing it to her quite a bit, but also just say vowels at her… He has a lot of cows, because moo is a good mouth shape for her to copy. He also has a few cats and then whatever other animals I can think of.
IT IS SO ADORABLE. I’m kind of annoyed at myself for choosing not to show her face as I just want to show the world how cute she is (and strong, and intelligent and smart etc.), but I also know that I should protect her privacy a bit.
(I feel like me saying I should protect her privacy makes me sound like I think I’m some ‘big shot’ or something. I don’t…)
It’s funny how quickly these things become a thing of the past. I don’t do this anymore… It’s a good job I record the songs that I make up for her as I often record them and then don’t sing them anymore.
I’ve also started to take less pictures of feeding her, because of how her hands are. The other day she was putting her hands down my top whilst I fed her? She doesn’t know what she is doing, but it is funny.
There were a couple of days where I didn’t, but I’m trying to do it once a day now. Mainly because it’s easier to give her her vitamin D in a bottle of milk, but also because I hope it helps keep my milk production up.
I realise that since I stopped pumping so much, when I do I don’t produce so much but I guess it’s more of a supply and demand now, whereas before I was probably over-producing.
(I’m trying to pump once a day now. Yesterday it took me a while to get 60ml from one boob and then I spilled 40ml of it over the bed – great.)
Well I ended up doing a week or so later. I used too much paint and she really wasn’t in the mood for tummy time – which is unusual for her. Or perhaps she wasn’t in the mood for me to drag her hands, make her walk on it or sit on it…
She seems to be waking herself up my crying in her sleep a bit more lately. I think she does has bad dreams. It’s kind of cute when she does it, but I feel bad as I can’t stop her having bad dreams. I said it in my last post, but what do babies dream about?
I probably should have called the image ‘Being Too Selfish To Be A Mother – I’m So Dumb‘, but that really felt uncomfortable. I did two sets of pictures, but 5 minutes apart; the photo above is from the second set. I was going to choose another from the first set, but it seemed unnecessary.
I was frustrated, because this is the first time in years that I haven’t had to ‘work work’ (as in have a job), but I’ve given myself more work by making a blog. At this point I was quite far behind with posting stuff, but I feel better now that I’m catching up with myself. I’ll feel better when I’m posting more in real time and not everyday like I am trying to do at the moment.
Not having to ‘work work’ gives me more time to work on my art stuff, but days are quite long in a weird way. At this point I was trying to do blog posts in the day, but now I usually wait until Tiago has some downtime in the evening so he can look after B and I can do a bit of my work. I feel like I’m more productive in a shorter amount of time as I can’t faff as much anymore.
I close my eyes and then she cries. I tell her ‘you’ve just been fed, go back to bed’ (rhyme), but then I look at my phone and see that it’s been 3 hours since I fed her. Sometimes it has been 5 hours and it honestly feels like a minute.
It was a steroid cream, and in the end we didn’t use it as the pharmacist seemed a bit hesitant about it because B was so young. We tried sudocrem (as the doctor said we could) and it made a big difference, otherwise I would have tried the cream that we got given. I would have used it sooner if it had been recommended before, but she initially suggested a different one. Typically sudocrem was the only one that we had at home already.
If I was a mind reader things would be a lot different. Knowing when she will wake up/how long she will sleep next, how much she will eat/drink etc – I’d be able to plan things better. But because I don’t know I just have to guess and sometimes I guess wrong…
On this occasion I’d look at her neck and then just cry. I felt so bad. I hadn’t felt comfortable washing her loads before and that was mainly why it was like this. I’d feel better, then I’d look at her neck and cry again.
I felt so awful after I realised what I had said. To be fair at times I still forget I’m a mother, particularly if B is asleep or if T has her and I’m in a different room to them. I’m going to say that I meant as I’m not currently ‘working working’ that it means my art comes first, rather than me even though I am in my work, but maybe I just meant what I said. I definitely don’t feel that way now. I know that B comes first and maybe saying that out loud made me think about things in a different way.
I feel like I have changed and I am more organised. My art definitely helps me a lot (and helps my family by having a mother/wife who is happier) and knowing that I have time in the evenings to do some things is great if I haven’t managed to do stuff whilst B sleeps in the day.
I (currently) haven’t cried since this day, though I feel like saying that means that another session is imminent. I don’t think so, though I should have said it was the last time I cried for negative reasons – I now often find myself crying tears of joy, because B has smiled at me lots or cooed at me, which I find adorable as the sound is sweet and her lips look so cute. That seems weird to say, but it’s true.
❤ (Because I’m so organised now I’ve signed up for a coding course and in the intro stuff it says to learn how to do the shortcut for bringing up the emojis box. I didn’t know there was a emojis box, but I just brought it up –Mac – press cmd + ctrl + space / Windows -press Win+. or Win+; – and put the heart in because B is adorable.)
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.
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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