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Oh Me, Oh Mãe II

The Story So Far (14th / 16th February 2022)

(Photos from 14th February – text from 16th February.

The images are new versions of these photos: I Have A Lot Of Respect For My Body And What It Did.)

25th May 2022: Again I feel awkward posting these images. The problem with posting so out of sync is I have a completely different relationship to the images by the time I post them…

#WeCouldHaveBeenDischargedFromTheHospitalOnTheSameDayAsLsBirthButIWantedToStayOneNightToMakeSureThatBreastfeedingWasGoingOkay

I originally got kept in hospital with B due to breastfeeding problems – and then she had jaundice.

#SheLatchedOnAnHourAfterBeingBornAndNoOneFromTheBreastfeedingTeamEvenCameToSeeUs

I was a bit annoyed that no one bothered, but to be honest I did not need their help.

#WithBIReallyStruggledWithBreastfeedingAndDuringOur4DayStayInHospitalItFeltLikeEveryoneHadSeenMyBoobsAndTriedToHelpUs

I did not ask anyone else for help after the midwife who was there for L’s birth helped me.

#IHadBeenDreadingBreastfeedingAgainSoItCameAsANiceSurpriseThatItWasSoMuchEasierThisTime

A couple of midwives did a home check and checked the latch and could hear L drinking quite noisily. I do not remember B drinking so loudly, but at this point with B I was expressing a lot.

#MyNipplesWereSoSoreAfterAFewDaysThatIWantedToUseNippleShieldsButICouldNotGetLToFeedWithThemWhichHasNowPaidOffAsMyNipplesHaveToughenedUpMore

It was so painful. I’ve been alternating between a couple of different creams – Lansinoh and Weleda Nipple balm (I never used the Weleda one with B).

#IWishIHadNotStayedANightInHospitalThoughAsIObviouslyDoNotDoWellInSuchPlaces

I was miserable. I did also want one night there to just adjust before going home to being a Mum of 2. At least Tiago got a good night of sleep.

#WeEndedUpStayingInTheDeliverySuiteFor8HoursAfterTheBirthAsTheyCouldNotMoveMeToAWardUntilMyCovidResultsCameIn

And the staff were so overworked. I think it was a combination of things.

#TheyDidTestsOnMeAndTiagoAt1InTheMorningAndBy10TheyStillDidNotHaveTheResultsSoTheyMadeMeDoARapidTestAndOnceThoseResultsCameInICouldBeMoved

The lab got the tests at 6.30 in the morning.

#TiagosResultsHadStillNotArrivedAndSoWeCouldEitherWaitOrICouldMoveAndHeCouldGoHome #SoWeSaidHeShouldGoHomeAndTakeOverLookingAfterBFromMyMum

I was a bit annoyed by the whole situation, but what else could we do.

#TypicallyLNeededToFeedAsWeWereAboutToMoveSoIFedHerWhileIGetWheeledThroughABusyWaitingRoom

I felt so awkward being wheeled past so many people. I just kept my head down and looked at L.

#OnTheWardIHadNoBedSoISatInMyCurtainedSpaceFeedingLAndEatingAVegetableCurry

I think another reason the breastfeeding team never came is because the staff were ‘so impressed’ (their words) that I was feeding the baby and feeding myself already. Fair enough. They closed the curtains and it wasn’t until the next day I noticed that it said to keep the curtains open unless you’re dressing or feeding, so this probably also didn’t help with making me feel so lonely.

#TheOther3WomenOnTheWardLeftNotLongAfterIArrivedAndTheirReplacementsHadTheirBirthPartnersWithThemUntil8InTheEveningSoISatAloneFor8HoursListeningToThemAllTalking #YesIDidGetUpset

Your birth partner was allowed to stay with you until the end of visiting hours, but if you had been there for a day already they were only allowed to visit for 4 hours. I was okay until I started to get really sleep deprived and then the crying started.

#LSleptWellInHerCotDuringTheDayButAtNightSheWouldNotSettle

She would sleep for 10 minutes, I’d feed her, she’d sleep for 10 minutes and repeat. No wonder my nipples were sore…

#IDidNotSleepInTheDeliverySuiteAsIFeltUnableToButIWasAlsoWaitingToBeMovedToTheWard

I thought we’d move then Tiago could hold the baby while I had a nap etc – things I missed out on with B.

#IHadToCallTheOverworkedMidwivesTwiceToTakeLFromMeForALittleBitSoICouldGetSomeSleep

I was starting to get hysterical. I called for help and they offered to take her. They had her for an hour and a half I think. Later I called again and they probably took her for half an hour – I woke up to her crying. As I was the only one without ward visitors I think I was also the most annoying one as no one else really buzzed for help.

#LuckilyIHadHadANapTheDayBeforeButAsLWasBornAt3InTheMorningIHadNotSleptSinceThen

Luckily I made myself nap as I kept saying maybe this is my last chance. With B my waters broke at 1am and I had about an hour or two of sleep. B was born in the afternoon though.

#LWasMoreThanHappyToSleepOnTheShouldersOfTheMidwivesWhileTheyWentAboutTheirWork

Phew.

#TiagoCameInAfterLunchToSeeUsAndToTakeUsHomeOnceWeGotDischarged

Hurrah. It was nice to see his face and feel less alone. I even started to chat to the other women. Their babies were all 5/6 pounds and I realised how big L was… (L was 9 pounds 9.)

#LCriedAllTheWayThroughHerExamAndIHadToHoldHerTheWholeTimeWhichTheMidwifeSaidWasAFirstForHer

She said she’d never had to examine a baby while they were in their Mum’s arms the whole time before. I find it hard to believe, but whatever.

#ThatNightSheWouldNotSleepInHerCotAgainAndTiagoHadToHaveHerOnHisChestSoThatICouldGetSomeSleep

When she slept she slept well though.

#MySisterRecommendedASleepingBagWhereTheyHaveTheirArmsUpRatherThanDown

With B she had sleeping bags where the arms can be in or out. I bought some 0-3 month ones for L and I couldn’t get her in them, so she was in B’s 3-9 month ones. She’d nap fine in them during the day, but at night – nope.

#AMumOnALocalWhatsappGroupWhoIHadNeverMetBeforeLentUsOneAndSheSleptSoWellOnceSheWasInIt

They are pricey, delivery was a few days and I doubted that it would make such a difference. Well, it made a huge difference.

#IAmDefinitelyRestingMoreThanIDidAfterHavingBAtThisPointButOnceTiagoIsBackAtWorkItWillBeABitDifferent

L is currently asleep, so I am going to try to nap once I finish this.

#IThinkThingsAreDefinitelyGoingBetterWithLThanTheyWereWithBAtThisPointButIDoGetVeryEmotionalWhenIDoNotSleep

Yesterday I did cry quite a bit. L had some long periods of being awake where I just felt like a milk machine and got upset. Tiago let her sleep on his chest in the end and I got some rest. Hurrah.

#TheOtherNightMyAfterPainsWereSoBadThatICheckedOn111AndItSaidWithAllMySymptomsIShouldCall999

I swear I never had afterpains with B. I had a couple of blood clots and my blood got heavier. I was crying with pain and it was awful. Labour wasn’t as bad as the pains…

#TheAmbulancesAreSoOverworkedThatAClinicianCalledInsteadWhichIWasHappyAboutAndByTheEndOfTheCallMyPainsHadStartedToSubsideButTheySaidToCallAMidwifeOrDoctorInTheMorning

I really did not want them to send an ambulance.

#AMidwifeCalledToBookAnAppointmentWithMeForNextWeekButCameOutToSeeUsAsSheWasConcernedButLuckilyAllIsFine

I had called my Doctors and they had arranged for someone to call me in the afternoon. Then the midwife called and could come to see me before the Doctors. It’s so much easier having someone come to the house.

#BIsTakingWellToBeingABigSisterThoughSheDoesNotKnowHerOwnStrengthWhenShePutsHerHeadToLsForAKissAndSheLikesToPointToLsNoseWhichIsFineButIHaveToSayCarefulALotWhenSheGoesToTouchLsEyes

I was worried about how it would be, but B seems to like having another little human around. When she points to L’s nose she says ‘no’ or something like that. The headbutting thing for a kiss is still funny. It’s very cute. I hope they get on well when they’re older.


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Categories
Oh Me, Oh Mãe

Tired And Weepy In The Evenings & Not Sleeping Makes Me Emotional

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.

Tired And Weepy In The Evenings (24th June 2020)

 
Feeling like a bad mother
 
Just never stopping 
 
Knowing that I feel worse with no sleep 
 
No sleep is my own fault
 
Now I have a headache 
 
And the picture does no justice to how shitty and tired I feel
 
I don’t even know where the time has gone or what I’ve been doing 
 
I just feel bad 
 
I hope sleep comes quick 
 
I feel like she deserves better 
 
I feel like a shit mother 
 
I need a hug from my husband 
 
But I’m in the bathroom writing this as I sweat, and I need a shower 
 
Tomorrow it’ll be better 
 
Tomorrow I’ll be better 
 
This afternoon I had her in a sling and I felt greater 
 
I breastfed her and my nipples didn’t hurt 
 
And I felt like a good mother 
 
So, I can and will be that good mother again tomorrow 
 
I need to be as Tiago’s paternity is over
 
But at least he will be in the other room 
 
I think I would be scared to be home alone 
 
Though that’s silly as I was earlier 
 
Everything will be okay 
 
Though what mother stands in the bathroom typing this instead of hurrying to spend time with her kid
 
I need to fix my priorities 
 
Not Sleeping Makes Me Emotional (25th June 2020)

 
I really don’t know how long I slept last night
 
But I didn’t rest much
 
Tiago went ‘back to work’ today
 
Paternity in this country is so bad
 
So bad that he took 1 week of it and 1 week of annual leave
 
He was only in the other room but I felt alone
 
Feeding seemed never ending this morning
 
Then she settled in a wrap
 
When we took her out Tiago commented on how red her legs were
 
I didn’t want to look
 
I was getting hungry and I just got upset
 
I should be lying down more
 
Now I am getting tired
 
When I took this picture I was worried that I was not producing enough milk
 
I hadn’t eaten and I had barely drank
 
It’s a big responsibility making sure she gets enough to eat/drink.
 
I can see why people give up or just bottle feed
 
I guess I do forget that I can just breastfeed rather than express
 
Though I have started to do a bit of both
 
Maybe I should just try breastfeeding her and see how that goes
 
Less stressful than running round trying to pump
 
Lockdown just makes it all so weird
 
She is 2 weeks old and I am yet to go for a walk
 
Hopefully we will tonight but I say that every night
 
I guess usually we’d get more support
 
I just feel like I have 1000 things to do
 
But I need to focus on my family.

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…

(I just did a search for paternity petitions on the UK Government and Parliament website. There is one called ‘Extend the Statutory Paternity Leave to minimum 4 weeks‘ which was opened last week and currently has 100+ signatures.)

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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