Thursday, 8 December 2011

Dear Beloved Friend

Dear Grandma,

Two years today you glided peacefully, unknowingly from this existence. I've been thinking about you a lot recently. I miss you dearly; your sharp observations, your quiet elegance, your down to earth Yorkshire pragmatism. I miss tucking into a fish and chips tea with you soaked in salt, vinegar and brown sauce whilst cozily slumped in front of the TV.

I wasn't able to say goodbye in the traditional sense. I was heavily pregnant at the the time. Treacherous, icy weather thwarted Younger Dad and I from making the 200 mile journey up to your snowy funeral and final resting place on the Winter Solstice. So I held my own memorial at home. I bought flowers, lit incense, wrote and read out a heartfelt letter, played music, sang, ate mince pies and drank Sherry in your memory. It was my dedication to you. My thank you to YOU for many years of your warmth, kindness and love.

I shed tears but not as many as I expected to. The emotional sieve curbed much of my grief only allowing it to lightly trickle through. It was actually hard to let go. My sadness restrained. This was in part to the fact I was still carrying my baby. I didn't want my sadness to affect my little girl.

I wasn't just sad though. I was also relieved and glad that you'd passed peacefully. I like to think you were carried away like a tiny delicate feather floating and dancing ever higher on the under current of a gentle breeze.  You were ready to leave. The last five years of your life weren't pleasant as your joints twisted, froze and groaned in pain. Your fingers permanently curled as if purposefully holding onto the last vestiges of life.  You didn't enjoy the languid approach of death's embracing arms in that pee smelling living graveyard of the old people's home. 90 years was enough. It was time to go.

I remember the last time we spoke. You had the last laugh. You reminded me with a mischievous glint in your eye that I'd always maintained I would never get married or have children. Oh how things changed. I also remember reminding you that you no longer needed to hold onto anything or anyone. It was okay for you to go when you felt safe and ready.

Like the transparent innocence of a newborn's gaze the brightness of your soul shone through your sky blue eyes during those final years and months. Your perceptive stare pierced through my defence into the core of my being rendering me tearfully moved each time I spent time with you at 'the home'. We leave this material existence with the incontinence and dependency of a baby but if we are lucky also with the hushed wisdom of a life lived and the forgiveness to let go. I like to think you were blessed with this when you departed.

You weren't just my Grandma. You were a dear friend and a mother too. My memories of you are endless. Right now when I reminisce my mind conjures up images of making cheese straws on a Sunday afternoon, clumsily toppling in your silver ballroom shoes, home made chocolate and toffee, your perfectly styled hair, the best Yorkshire pudding ever and a sublime seven months living with you after a particularly bad time in my life.

So today Grandma, I raise my glass of Sherry to you.

Thank you.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Guest Post - 'Confessions Of An Older Mum – or – Lessons In What Really Matters'

By Anne Whitehouse author of The Life Alchemy Blog.

Her fascinating blog based on her experience as a qualified therapeutic healer delves into all aspects of holistic and spiritual healing for mothers and offers practical guidance for making positive transformational changes in our lives.

Enjoy .....


It's a normal Saturday afternoon, and I am sitting in front of the television cuddling my four-year-old daughter.  An advert for a well- known moisturiser - the one that fights those seven signs of aging - comes on.

"Mummy, you must buy that," she pipes up, "so your skin can be beautiful." Oh dear, I think.  "Isn't Mummy's skin beautiful already?" I ask her.  My hopes aren't high...

"No Mummy, yours is all splotchy," she answers, innocence oozing from every pore of her perfect peaches-and-cream complexion. "If you buy that cream, you can be beautiful."

"Your skin is already beautiful, Mummy," counters my eight-year-old son hastily. (I've been training him for a lot longer!)

It's true, I'm an older mum!

So, what put me on this path to delayed parenting? Well, quite simply, I was the proverbial career woman. A baby would have ruined  my scientific career.  Although I knew I wanted a family at some point, it definitely wasn't going to be in my twenties.  However, when I turned 32, my biological alarm clock went off: I wanted a baby and I wanted one now!

Alas, nature isn't always on board with our plans, and it took me over two years to conceive. I then discovered that I suffer from childbirth phobia (tocophobia) which produced panic attacks, nightmares and palpitations. I suffered excruciating pain in my pelvis - my ligaments now had the consistency of over-cooked pasta - and I found myself struggling around on crutches.  They advised a C-section, but I had some deep-seated belief that if I didn't give birth 'properly' I would have failed. Understanding is power, I told myself, and I began researching every single empowering technique available to the aspiring Earth-Mother.

So, armed with another hypnosis tape, homeopathy, aromatherapy, music, flower remedies and a crate of Lucozade, I confronted my fears and embarked on a 'natural' water birth.

What a disaster! I won't dwell on the birth. Suffice it to say that a large-headed baby wedged in an OP position in my pelvis, a quick first stage labour and no anaesthetist on the ward resulted in an agonizing ventouse birth.  The good news: both I and my son survived.  The bad news: permanent damage to my pelvis, and PTSD for me.

Still determined to be a good mother, I attempted breastfeeding. Would he latch on?  Would he hell!  So, I began an intensive regime of expressing. But six weeks later, I was struggling to produce even 50mls of milk a day.  Instead of feeding being a close and loving time between us, it had turned into one huge nightmare.  I felt depressed, stressed and inadequate, and I was completely preoccupied with my utter failure as a mother.

Thankfully, one day I woke up to what I was doing. Looking at my son's little face and big blue eyes, I saw that I had got my priorities completely wrong. Did it really matter that he had been wrenched out of me with a glorified vacuum cleaner?  Did it really matter that I couldn't even produce enough milk for an hors d'oeuvre? Was I really going to allow these trivial details to ruin the experience of having my long-awaited baby?

....That day I ditched the expressing, and remembered that I had been given the most wonderful gift in the universe.

Pregnancy number 2 aged 36: this sadly ended in an early miscarriage.

Pregnancy number 3:  I was now 37, but I conceived easily.  After my first traumatic birth experience, I was offered an elective C-section which, this time, I accepted. My daughter was born at 37 weeks: another huge-headed baby in the wrong position!  I tried to breastfeed, but she had no more intention of latching on than her brother had done.   I gave up after a couple of days, put her onto bottles, and we were both happy.

This time there was an important difference - I had learnt that having a healthy baby is all that really matters.  It isn't an exam: there's nothing to prove. The result: instead of beating myself up and ruining those precious days, I simply enjoyed the wonderful gift of my little girl.  I recovered far quicker, I was happy, relaxed and confident. I even had more energy, despite having to look after my boisterous son at the same time.  I had learnt that if I needed medical support and powdered milk, then that was ok, and I was grateful for them. This time I honoured the needs and limitations of my body and was able to embrace motherhood with a joy that had escaped me the first time.

Were the self-help therapies I had used in my first labour useless?  Absolutely not!  They empowered me to face my fear.  Had it not been for the position of my son's head, those techniques may well have given me the natural birth I had wanted. It just wasn't meant to be that particular time. I realise now that my experiences were necessary, as they have led me to help other women recover and reclaim their happiness after miscarriage and traumatic births.

Today, at nearly 43, I have my precious son and daughter, aka Lego Ninjago Boy and Fairy Princess.  I don’t have the time to feel old!  The joy our children have brought into our lives is indescribable. As for the was simply perfect;  I had already had my 'high-powered' career, my husband and I had already had ten years together.  When we finally had our family, we were ready to do the parent thing whole-heartedly, without
reservations, resentments or regrets. Being an older mum was definitely the right choice for me.

Looking back on it all, I realise there was another lesson too.  While it would have been nice if I had done it all the natural way, it doesn't matter that I didn't.  I learnt that there is only one thing that defines what kind of mother you are:  how much you love your children.  I love mine to bits and am thankful for them every day.

The Life Alchemy Blog On Twitter
The Life Alchemy Blog On Facebook

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Question Time - 10 Things

The very imaginative Mummy Plum has asked me to reveal 10 things about myself in ...

...... QUESTION TIME .....


1) Answer 10 questions
2) Tag someone to do the same
3) Return to the original blog post when you have completed your 10 questions and comment, so we can all find out more about our fellow bloggers.

1. Describe myself in seven(ish) words
5' 3", honest, chit-chatty, humorous, stubborn custard fiend

2. What keeps you awake at night?
I sleep lighter than a feather. Anything stirs me from my slumber; Younger Dad breathing, Younger Dad snoring, Younger Dad trumping, mice getting high on crumbs in the kitchen and any nocturnal squeal from Little A. I also have this habit of waking up just before Little A cries out in the dark. It must be that psychic mummy baby connection thing.

3. Who would you like to be and why?
I sometimes fantasise about a brighter, energised, joyous, fully awake me in a parallel universe. In this reality I am not a mum. I feel ALIVE.  I am pursuing a fulfilling career as a therapist. I have time for exercise and spiritual pursuits like yoga, tai chi and meditation. I eat freshly prepared organic meals everyday. I travel and explore the world further than my local high street. I enjoy quality time with Younger Dad and all our friends. I can come and go as I please and stay up into the wee hours enjoying film after film or the stimulation of a page turning novel or revel in sparky conversation around a dinner lit kitchen table.

I love Little A with all my heart but I often miss my old life dearly. I miss my me time. When I reflect upon my alternate reality I realise that with a little patience, imagination, and magic dust I could conjure some of it into this existence with Little A.  It's a question of intent and balancing my priorities.

4. What are you wearing now?
I am going to describe this from the bottom up.  I am wearing my dark brown year old Ugg boots of which the right boot already has a small hole over the big toe much to my continual annoyance. My legs are clothed in an old pair of dark blue jeans and my torso is masked by a two year old Mothercare M2B black and grey stripped maternity top. Nice.  I really do need some new clothes.

I am also being 'held up' by a pair of granny sized pants which hark back to my post c-section op days and a discoloured, totally unattractive nursing bra, yes, 22 months on my hefty GG mummy boobies are still lactating and Little A can still be found propped up at the milk bar mornings, nap times and last orders before bedtime. I guess the milky bar is on me then as Little A doesn't have a tab.  Anyways my 'shabby chic' is off set by make up disguising my haggard face although there's no concealing the puffy bags pulling down my eyes like the weight of the Atlantic sinking the Titanic. I am also wearing my shoulder length mousy hair in a high pony tail.

5. What scares you?
The thought of any harm coming to Little A terrifies me. For over a year I was plagued by vivid intrusive thoughts of macabre things happening to her like being carried away by rats, a stranger breaking in and kidnapping her in the dead of night, or of her falling into a fire and burning to death. It makes me shudder just writing that. These intense thoughts were just one of the variety of PTSD symptoms I experienced since Little A's birth.  Fortunately the trauma focused therapy (EMDR) I am currently having has made a very positive difference. I can honestly say I am no longer traumatised and the thoughts are evaporating like cotton wool clouds on a blue Summers day.

6. What is the best and the worst thing about blogging?
Blogging is great for unscrambling myself and processing my thoughts and feelings. I'm finding it a really beneficial creative outlet. Coming from a therapist, its very good therapy. I've also come into contact with some wonderful women who have really brightened up my life. You know who you are ladies! In some aspects blogging has offered more support than my NCT group. I can really relate to the blogs I read. I love their honesty, openness and authenticity. I feel part of a wider community of wonderful mothers who are doing their best to understand themselves and better their lives.

The worst has to be what I am struggling with at the moment, the dreaded bloggers block.  I am finding it really hard to write.  My mind has transformed into a barren dusty windswept desert devoid of an inspiration and the oasis of words, pictures and ideas which I seek is shrouded in a fug of woolly mist. There is probably so much I could talk about but I am finding it a challenge to simply tap out that first sentence. Help!

7. What was the last website you looked at?
Amazon which is probably one of the best sites when it comes to the annual slog of Christmas shopping.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
I would stop being so hard on my myself and mother myself a lot more.

9. Slankets: Yes or No.
I had no idea what one of these was until I just had a peek on Amazon.  Very attractive. Some even come with ergonomic pockets to elegantly house a remote control in. Will be seducing Younger Dad in one of these. Once its on, how do you get it off? Anyways whats wrong with a warming dressing gown and bed socks.

10. Tell us something about the person who tagged you.
Mummy Plum writes a gorgeously descriptive blog. Even though she remains anonymous you really get a sense of her behind her colourful words. She's sensitive, thoughtful and mature. Personally I think she should seriously consider turning her eloquent hand to fiction.  Two posts I thoroughly enjoyed were Getting My Groove Back: A Day to Myself and Making Friends: A Tale Of The Coffee Shop Girl. She's also project managing the restoration of the West London equivalent of Hogwarts affectionately known by her as Faulty Towers.

I’m tagging another fantastic blog to take the baton and write to the finishing line - The Bling Buoy.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Guest Post - 'Old, Overweight and Pregnant'

By ExFashionista.

Her blog spills the beans about her previous life as a buyer in the fashion industry and new life as a mother. Its a really well written and interesting read.

Enjoy .....


I had a relatively un-eventful pregnancy much to the disgust of my Consultant/Registrar.  You see not only was I old (35) and pregnant, I was also overweight.  The conception of my daughter was surprisingly easy and I fell pregnant the first month we decided to start trying.  Like many older women I had been convinced by the mass media that I would have great difficulty falling pregnant, so had been doing my best to mentally prepare myself for months of negative pregnancy tests.  I was
concerned about the possibility of declining fertility and had also read that women who are overweight can find conception difficult.  After further research on the issue of my weight I found that this assumption is largely based on the premise that overweight women can suffer from erratic cycles in exactly the same way that women who are considered underweight can. My cycles were extremely regular so I was less concerned about this as a potential barrier, than my age.  I was however prepared to lose weight if it proved necessary and had also been taking folic acid for a number of months.

My first Midwife appointment took place at 9 weeks.  It was at that point I realised that my weight was going to be an issue.  I’m not a fan of BMI, primarily because I think it’s bias against those of us who are short of stature, but also because I don’t like being labelled.  I particularly don’t like being labelled as “obese” but unfortunately as I was, the whole world thought that they could make an awful lot of assumptions about me and my health.  I was told that I would have to be managed by a Consultant as I was considered a “high risk” pregnancy. The Midwife then took my blood sugar and complained that it was too low, followed by my blood pressure, also low. I saw the irony, but it was lost on her. My first appointment under Consultant care was with the Anaesthetist.  I walked into his room and sat down and his first words to me were “Why are you here, you aren't even big?”.  What a lovely man, I instantly felt better.  Incidentally, I am a dress size 16/18.

My next appointment was supposed to be with the Consultant. Unfortunately, the Consultant wasn't available that day so I was lumbered with her Registrar.  I took an instant dislike to her, she spoke to me as if I was a child and lectured me about obesity without asking me any questions. I’m convinced she thought I was surviving on a diet of fish & chips, chocolate and sweets.  In fact the opposite was true, I ate extremely healthily when I was pregnant and actually lost some weight in the first few months.

During my appointment she checked my blood pressure (normal) and blood sugar (normal) and gave me a lecture about pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes.  During my second appointment with the same Registrar, the same checks were performed and this time she also reviewed my scan results.  Everything was absolutely fine. I decided to raise the subject of using the Birth Centre and she was horrified.  Clearly as I was overweight and old, she was of the opinion that they should intervene in the birthing process as much as possible.  I went home that night and cried. My third appointment was much the same although my husband was there for moral support. When I remarked on the normality of my pregnancy she replied “We’ll see what happens with your glucose test”. Thankfully that was normal too.

Eventually I spoke out about the treatment I had received from the Registrar and was encouraged to make an appointment with the Consultant Midwife to discuss both that and the use of the Birthing Centre.  The Consultant Midwife was sympathetic and ensured me that she would discuss my complaint with the Consultant and insist that my next appointment was with the Consultant, not her Registrar.  It was also agreed that I could use the Active Birth room for delivery. For the first time in my pregnancy, or so it seemed, someone had actually listened to what I had to say, rather than seeing me as two simple numbers on a piece of paper, my age and BMI.  I was subsequently discharged from Consultant care because it was determined that my pregnancy had progressed perfectly and it was no longer required. I also received an apology for the way that I had been made to feel by the Registrar.  I told the Consultant that I understood that there could be complications with pregnancy in older women and indeed women that are over-weight and from that perspective they were being cautious.  However, there are ways of managing pregnant women that don’t involve treating them like either cattle or naughty children.  I’d like to think that this had some resonance with her, but suspect that is pure vanity on my part.

In the event my daughter was delivered via cesarean section as it was discovered that she was breech at my 40 week appointment.  I was incredibly disappointed not to have a natural birth, but I did manage to have skin-to-skin contact and breastfeed while they stitched me up.  I love being an older mum. I feel experienced and confident in my own opinions and decision making processes.  I have had a career, travelled the world and partied with the best of them. Therefore, I don’t feel I am missing out on anything at all, as I’ve already done it. I am entirely content spending my days with my beautiful daughter, I don’t feel desperate for a “break” from her and rarely go out on the town.

Why would I want to go dancing and drinking when I can cuddle up with my little one and watch the “Bedtime Hour” on CBeebies?  A few years ago that sentence would have been unthinkable, but I guess that’s the point. Several years ago I was doing exactly what I wanted and it was all about me, now it is all about my little girl and her happiness comes first. I like it that way.

ExFashionista On Twitter

Sunday, 27 November 2011

That's Not My Name

Names, who needs them?  How many times have you bumped into a familiar face to find your brain experiencing a Chernobylesque meltdown in the photo fit department. The net result you haven't the foggiest clue as to whom you are talking to. The amicable face remembers your name with lightening clarity as you cannily attempt with polite nervous smile all diversions of any conversational cul-de-sac that leave you with no choice but to address this stranger by their dreaded forgotten title. All the while your clever clever brain simultaneously recalls the names of random politicians, the Latin translation for spider plant and wonders why brussel sprouts are that taste bud offendingly bitter. In other words it remembers everything but this persons name. So lets have done with it and just greet each other with a neolithic grunt. Surely this has to be the most effective solution to such socially awkward situations?

Anyways I own a two syllable forgettable name that won't shorten into a cute compact sized version of the whole. As a child of the early 70's, well actually 1970 almost back flipping off the cliff into 69, I was accorded with one of those traditional Biblical names with its routes in the hell and damnation of the old testament. It's not Maacah or Zillah. Having a name that doesn't shorten like Elizabeth to Liz, Rebecca to Bex or Sharon to Shaz(zer) means that I'm also the ungrateful recipient of alternative unflattering monikers that eclipse my 1970's ubiquitous as beige name my 'well meaning' parents bestowed upon me. Well at least I wasn't christened Britney.  I have a good friend who's actually brushed off her identity and reinvented herself not once but twice thanks to Deed Poll. Now that takes brass which I sadly lack. I'm not going to reveal my actual name but will unveil a few of those alternative sobriquets for your general amusement;

(1) Busy body. The one the teacher gave me and scribbled all over my school reports. So what if I was little miss nosey parker snooping in on my class mates affairs I needed creative inspiration for my future blog. Anyway I was just being curious.

(2) Chatterbox. Another teacher's term of endearment. I guess it meant I yabbered alot. I started getting paranoid about this one and promptly stopped talking.

(3) Peanut. Peanut? An offering from my first proper boyfriend.  I think he was trying to politely tell me I was am a complete nutty neurotic psycho fruit cake witch. Anyone with a nut allergy stayed outside a five mile radius of West Yorkshire.

(4) Pug/ Puggy. Another delight courtesy of my first boyfriend and then circle of chums circa 1989. Having watched the sad demise of Ethel's dog Willy on Eastenders I became rather charmed by the pug. This is the second time I have mentioned this now and quite clearly in need of more therapy for my unresolved Willy issues. Anyway as well as my fondness for pugs I also possess a squishy nosed face and so it was only a matter of time before I was referred to as one myself. Woof.

(5) Spagsa/ Spagbowl. What? Yes, quite. This was a very random name a bunch of mates at University with a penchant for raving and partying unexpectedly addressed me with one afternoon whilst sat around an aging kitchen table supping builders brew and munching on the only meal of the day, Hobnobs. This name unfortunately stuck for the rest of my third year. I wasn't eating spaghetti at the time but chocolate biscuits. If I'd been chairperson of the University 'cavorting naked with wild abandon in a vat of bolognese sauce' society Spagsa would've been a neat fit. Guess the drugs don't work then.

(4) Tantra - Okay, drum roll please ..... this was my DJ name.  In hindsight this was a very fromage friendly moniker although it sounded quite good at the time. These were the days when DJ's used a type of superhero stage name. Lets face it Goldie sounds better than DJ Jonathan Smyth; that's not Goldie's real name by the way. A fellow DJ friend suggested the name Tantra and I casually accepted it. I had no idea at the time that it referred to an ancient spiritual practise. My DJ pals only knew me as Tantra and never by my other name. DJ Tantra became an alter ego, a separate identity I could hide unselfconsciously behind when faced with hundreds of punters in clubs.

Digressing a little, when I met Younger Dad he dared to raise an arched doubting eye brow at my line ''I used to be a DJ''. Admittedly this was a rather clever but predictable ploy to lure him into my totally 'unboutique hotel chic' boudoir but hey it worked. On our first proper date I invited him back for a 'cup of Yorkshire tea' and that disbelieving upturned brow thoroughly straightened itself out when greeted with 3000 deep house and techno 12''s plus a signed copy of a Jeff 'techno God' Mill's white label.

(5) Miss West Yorkshire. Okay this was the name I gave myself when I moved to London ten years ago.  I was overawed by the Queen's big smelly pigeon sh*tty urban sprawl so I wanted something to keep me tied to my Northern monkey roots.

(6) Pudding/ Oi Mush! /Poo head. . Younger Dad's sieve like mind has lost all traces of my original name and uses either/all of these to address the gaunt hysterical semblance of a wife he married.

I am now simply known as 'mummy, mummy, mummy', and leave you with this fine ditty by the Ting Tings ...

The wonderful Flossing The Cat sponsored this post and I'm now tagging Mother Porridge, Five Go Blogging, Mummy Plum, and Caught Writing to reveal theirs ....

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Guest Post - 'Being An Older Single Mum'

By Older Single Mum.

Her blog is witty, sassy, compelling, sincere and narrates everything from her 'sh*tty ex husband' to romancing her lodger and her talents as a healer.

Enjoy .....


Being an older mum is a privilege that some young ones just don’t get.  And that’s why we tend to be overprotective and over grateful for our little ones, tending less to hand them over to anyone, even their Dads!

I spent my thirties believing that my chances to have children had passed me by, but in my dreams (real night time ones), there was a baby waiting for me.

I endured two miscarriages, then he came.  I was 41. And then, in the throes of an awful marriage, which I only clung on to because there were further (clairvoyant?) dreams, that there was still another child to come yet, I suffered a third miscarriage, by which time I thought I would die with the heartbreak and confusion.

On a one off night with my hateful husband, I fell pregnant and it is truly conceivable that Fate intervened because my second child came at, by now, age 45.

I had lost all three babies before the end of the first trimester and I thank Heaven for that, but I was still reluctant to deeply enjoy being pregnant, just in case, which is a shame.

I was healthy and well throughout both full term ones and didn't go for any of the tests being thrust at me to detect any myriad of problems or diseases, because the results would naturally come up ‘high risk,’ giving rise to an even more worrisome time, and also because I knew, given my history, I would never terminate, no matter what.

Having cemented the statistic in my mind that 98% pregnancies end in perfectly healthy babies, I also paid for Acupuncture (to help ‘hold’ them) and regular Osteopathy to keep baby and me in the best possible physical shape.  The latter helped my heartburn no end, kept me truly comfortable and no doubt was the main contributing factor in two perfectly natural text book births.

The trauma and shock have never left me though!  I don’t think it’s easy to give birth at any age, but my mind was certainly stronger for being older and going against the grain.  My first, Robson, was born safely at home, but I relented for the second, having contracted the potentially fatal Strep B infection, so eventually turned up at the hospital 20 minutes before baby Aiden finally came.

My regrets are few. I do wish I’d had my children when I was younger.  However I was brought up in the ‘career first’ generation, made it as a Money Broker in the City, earning a packet and travelling a great deal, but overall I felt hollow.

No one tells you that independence doesn't make you happy. And it can be very lonely.

It wasn't obvious to me – throughout my child bearing years what it was I was actually craving.  It wasn't until having children that I have become more fulfilled than anything
material can ever give you.  No career gives you back what they can!

I regret the years spent exercising myself almost to death, because, in hindsight, by the time my children came I was well and truly knackered and I believe that the energy we have when we are younger is, indeed, given to us for bringing them into the world and raising them.

And I regret not having my children with someone with whom I could be closer, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  Their father and I are now divorced.

Being an older single mum has meant co-sleeping was no issue whatsoever until their fidgeting was unbearable (about one year), breastfeeding could be done on demand (again approx. one year) and neither of my children ever had a bottle of formula milk.   All of which took guts which have come about only later on in my life.

I consider myself very lucky to have my children at all and regularly read about women my age who have missed the opportunity.  IVF was something that I wouldn't consider,
nor was stealing sperm as featured in Liz Jones' column in the Daily Mail!

I think the call inside is so strong and it starts earlier than we might like to admit to ourselves nowadays, that we ignore it at our peril. To have children with someone you love, should be every girl’s dream.

Older Single Mum On Twitter

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Guest Post - 'Why I Became a Mum at 37'

By Minibreak Mummy.

Her blog eloquently and succinctly chronicles life with her toddler son and she has an aesthetic eye for a unique second hand bargain to boot! 

Enjoy .....


My husband, H, started to get really broody about 4 years ago. We talked about this, and it was clear that H would be disappointed if he never got chance to be a dad. And I started to realise that I would be sad if someone so obviously suited to being a good father never got chance to do this. But I was worried about the potential impact on my career, which has always been important to me. So I asked H if he would be prepared to consider working part-time and/or taking a career break if that was what was required in order for us to become parents. He said he would.

So this is how we got to where we are now. Me in a senior job and H taking a career break in order to be a stay-at-home dad for our lovely 3 year old boy, born when I was 37. Full-time childcare at a nursery or childminders wasn't really an option for us as our son has had some health problems (asthma-type symptoms in response to allergens and viruses).

Some people may think I'm extremely weird/selfish/unfeminine to be leaving the bulk of the responsibility for childcare to my husband, but it works for us. It doesn't mean that I love my son or my husband any less. The best thing I can do for my family is to be the breadwinner during the working day and be the best mum I can be outside work. I actually got my current job after maternity leave. Somehow, after surviving an emergency c-section, a job interview seemed much less scary.

There have been some challenging times with broken nights and expressing milk at work, but if I had been at an earlier stage in my working life it would not have been possible for us to manage on one salary. There was no way that I could have had a child in my early 30s in any case, because life was going a bit pear-shaped back then. I had to get myself sorted out before I could even think about getting pregnant.

There were only a couple of downsides to being an older mum from my point of view. I was put under a lot of pressure by NHS staff to have tests I didn't want. I held my ground but it was tough. Also, my father-in-law died last year, so our son missed out on growing up with his grandpa. But he still has three remaining grandparents who love him to bits and spoil him rotten.

Overall, I am very pleased with the way things have turned out. I think I'm a better mum to my little boy than I would have been if I were younger, probably more able to be patient with him. And I really enjoy spending time with my little boy and watching him

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Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Old Skool Music Therapy

Thank you to Five Go Blogging and Older Single Mum for laying down the gauntlet of choosing three pieces of music which have really moved me, grooved me, shaken my bootie and made me stop dead in my tracks courtesy of Mammy Woo's 'Music Therapy' meme. Given that I DJ'ed for nearly a decade I wrongly assumed this was going to be an easy task and found myself totally overwhelmed by choice.

How on earth was I supposed to narrow down 1000's of records to just three? I've spent all week vacillating over what to include. So what I decided upon was those pieces which really influenced me as I blossomed from snotty, precocious girl into a demure woman fish netted brazen hussy. I've also been slightly mischievous by breaking the rules and included a fourth bonus track. So here we go. I hope you enjoy my selection .....

It's 1984, I'm thirteen years young and waiting impatiently in the front seat of my dad's car while he queues in Pizza Hut to collect the Saturday night take away. I turn on the radio and my ears are blown away by the arching synth sounds of New Order's Blue Monday. I have always been drawn to synth based pop. I can remember feeling mesmerised by Kraftwerk's The Model aged ten and a fan of groups like Tears For Fears, Scritti Politti and Propaganda as a middling teenager.
Blue Monday however was in a league of its own .....

How does it feel to treat me like you do
When you've laid you hands upon me
And told me who you are
I thought I was mistaken
I thought I heart your words
Tell me
How do I feel tell me now
How do I feel

Fast forward a few years, I'm 17 and coming of age with my first proper steady boyfriend. I dutifully follow all the indie bands he listens to but need some sounds to call my own. I discover The The's brilliant album Soul Mining from which the introspective Uncertain Smile is my hands down favourite. Now this song paints the ultimate background to the skin blemished, white histrionic knuckle ride of my latter teenage years. The piano solo, nod to Jools Holland, is vintage gorgeousness decanted into the finest Waterford crystal to be savoured over and over again courtesy of the rewind button.

Uncertain Smile .....

Peeling the skin back from my eyes, I felt surprised
That the time on the clock was the time I usually retired
To the place where I cleared my head of you;

But just for today, i think I'll lie here and dream of you.
I've got you under my skin where the rain can't get in,
But if the sweat pours out, just shout I'll try to swim and pull you out.

A howling wind blows the litter as the rain flows,
As street lamps pour orange colored shapes through your window,
A broken soul stares from a pair of watering eyes,
Uncertain emotions force an uncertain smile...

I've got you under my skin where the rain can't get in,
But if the sweat pours out, just shout I'll try to swim and pull you out.

A year later and I'm dolled up in my gothy hippy gear and perched on a bench in the Leeds Warehouse. It's 1988, Friday night, and the speakers are pumping out indie rock and acid house. Unbeknownst to my retro rock chums, who contemptuously frowned upon any new emerging musical genre, dance became my secret guilty pleasure. I've always been a rhythm girl at heart preferring the actual music to lyrical content so it was only a matter of time before I threw off my guitar heels and strapped on my dancing trainers.

There were two tracks that shook the goth out of me and replaced the cemetery black with tie die, flares and strange wavy hand movements. So I have to the thank the Leeds Warehouse for playing A Guy Called Gerald's Voodoo Ray and Inner City's Good Life. To this day I can still feel the shivers both these records sent down my unsuspecting spine. I was utterly spellbound. I had tasted the forbidden fruit of the four four beat and entered the temple of house music. Goodbye indie rock. Farewell my dinosaur friend. Music therapy indeed. No wonder I became a DJ. Love the underbudgetness of the Inner City video; you can't beat dancing outside a shop window in your best 80's shoulder pads and wide brimmed hat.

Finally, and swiftly moving onto my third decade, the album that sound tracked my thirty something years is Stay Human by Michael Franti and Spearhead. Laid back, jazz and funk infused, each album track is just superb. It was really hard to pick one but thanks to the limited choice on You Tube I have gone with Soulshine. This happens to be one of my favourites anyway. It always leaves me feeling inspired and hopeful.


Take ya time
Unwind ya mind
We all need a little soulshine
Take ya time
Unwind ya mind
We could use a little soulshine

And now I am passing on the baton to the following great blogs .....
The Bling Buoy
Mummy Plum

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Adroit Older Mum - That Be Me!

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away Mummy Plum bequeathed upon Older Mum an award with potent powers of subterfuge ..... The Versatile Blogger .....  with this award I can convince you with the mere nimble trickery of my words that I'm in fact an adaptable, dexterous and multifaceted blogger. Welcome to the dark side of the force ..... Mwah ha ha ha ha .....

Thank you for this award Mummy Plum. Feel reassured that this award is now in the wrong hands of a villainous bondesque megalomaniac. I am currently donning tight fitting black leather gloves and a Christmas themed balaclava as I tap away on my thermonuclear detonating PC. Not really. I feel like an ikkle bunny wabbit inside all warm and fluffy. Another award? Lucky moi !!!! Oh no, I'm choking up again in my Oscar GP (Gynweth Paltrow) winning moment. C'mon girl, stiff upper lip. These blogging awards are the only accolades best thing since my bronze medallion.

So ... The Versatile Blogger comes with some rules. And here they be ...

1) Thank the person who tagged you .... Thank you AGAIN Mummy Plum 
2) Share seven things about yourself .... Mmmmm lets see ....
3) Pass the award on to fifteen newly discovered blogs .... Think I can stretch to 7
So, here are seven interesting facts about me:

1) I'm a northern lass. Born and bred in the provinces of West Yorkshire. Leeds to be precise. Defected to Lancashire to pick up what was to be a useless humanities degree circa 1992 before returning to Leeds with tail between my legs. Got fed up with being rained upon, no central heating and gravy on my chips so as you do moved down south to London where the streets are not pathed with gold but pigeon sh*t. Still fiercely loyal to my roots. Up North we call it tea NOT supper.

2) I love custard. Cleopatra bathed in milk. Mines a hot tub of creme anglaise. Custard is my ultimate comfort food. I'm a big fan of the vanilla pod. So is it Birds, Ambrosia Devon or Tesco's Finest custard? Personally Birds wins hands down for me.  It's warming and homely.  I make a mean strawberry crumble and with lashings of the yellow stuff is simply nectar of the Gods.

3) I have a thing about pug dogs. I fell in love with the squishy faced flickerty flick tailed breed when I witnessed the very sad demise of Ethel's Willy on East Enders a long, long time ago. He overdosed on ice cream and was put out of his tummy troubled misery by Doctor Legg. A somber day indeed. Sad but true I have even bought the domain for some mischievous pug loving fun. I fully intend on owning a black and a fawn pug in my twilight years or as a sibling substitute for Little A if I'm unable to conceive again.

4) I hardly never wear make up. This is certainly not because I'm drop dead gorgeous. My mummy blemished skin could certainly benefit from a nourishing mineral based foundation. Any ideas? Sometime in my twenties I suffered the misfortune of getting 'MACed' by a satsuma faced beautician in a lesser named department store. Apparently it was a make over I was having. It took a week to chisel the foundation off. If it wasn't for the fact that Micheal Angelo is six feet under I would have hired his services. Still I never looked back after this debacle and have since forgotten how to apply the stuff.

5) I was captain of my school lacrosse team. Lacrosse is a fantastically brutal team sport invented by the native Americans. It basically involved a bunch of blood thirsty teenage girls whacking the beejezus out of each other whilst trying to capture a small, hard ball in a net on a stick with the aim of lobbing it unmercifully at a terrified goalkeeper.  And Older Mum was captain!

6) I am addicted to watching most exports by the brilliant American cable channel HBO. Those series I totally immerse myself in include Lost, In Treatment and True Blood.

7) I can waggle my ears. Might vlog my flapping auditory organs one day ...

Now the challenging part. I’m passing the baton on to the following fantastic blogs .....

Older Single Mum
Flossing The Cat
Middle Aged Matron
Purple Mum
Three Little Flowers
The Bling Buoy

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Guest Post - 'Being An Older Mum'

By Polly of Caught Writing.

Her blog is emotive, thoughtful and and highly observant.

Enjoy ..... 


To be honest, I didn’t consider myself to be an older mum at first.  I only became aware of it as a result of other people’s comments.  A colleague at work, on hearing of my pregnancy, commented that I was “a bit old for all that.”  Someone else was stunned into saying that they thought I’d already gone through an early menopause.  I was 38 at the time.  The number of women choosing to have babies in their late 30s and older is increasing and it’s no longer the rarity that it once was.  There are many reasons for  this, from wanting to build and become established in a career before taking a break, to not being sure of the desire to be a parent until later, to meeting a suitable partner a little later and wanting to build that relationship before having a family.

I was 39 when my little chap was born.  I was already 34 when I met my husband and it took a while for him to decide that marriage and children were what he wanted.  Having made that decision, we then had trouble conceiving and unfortunately lost our first child at 14 weeks.  By this time I was nearly 38 and faced with the very real prospect that we were going to find this process difficult and that, biologically speaking, time was getting shorter.

There may have been a few comments from friends and acquaintances about my slightly advanced age, but I encountered nothing but support from the NHS.  I was never treated with anything other than dignity and respect and my age didn’t come into any discussions with any of the health professionals, apart from the obvious increased risk of conditions such as Downs. Thankfully, following a blood test, my risk for Downs came back as minimal, so there were few worries about that.

I sailed through my pregnancy and most of the birth.  I had none of the problems that other women seemed to experience.  I felt vaguely sick for most of the first 14 weeks or so, but was sick only once and I had none of the other symptoms commonly associated with pregnancy.  I remember commenting to one doctor when I was about 22 weeks pregnant that I hardly felt pregnant at all and it was true. I felt very, very healthy.  I wanted a home birth and did achieve a home labour, but 12 hours into the labour, 24 hours since I’d last had any sleep, the contractions stopped and I was taken to the hospital, where the little man was born twenty minutes later by ventouse.  I defy anyone of any age not to need a little help after more than 24 hours without sleep, 12 of which were spent in labour, and I don’t believe that was related to my age.  Many younger women have longer and more difficult labours.  Mine was as tranquil an experience as it could be, spent at home with my husband and two midwives.  In fact I remember one of the midwives commenting that she couldn’t believe how calm I was.

Once we bought the little man home, we settled into parenthood very easily.  I had already decided that my life was now his and I devoted myself to him.  This made things easier, I think, as I wasn’t trying to get back to work, keep up a social life, or fit the baby into my life.  I fitted completely and easily into his life, and just went with the flow.  I certainly had the confidence at 39 to declare that this is how it was going to be, whereas when I was younger I might have been more easily swayed by other people’s opinions about how it was “meant” to be.  I knew exactly how I wanted to nurture my baby and that was largely led by his needs and requirements.  I remember those early weeks as being calm, quiet and peaceful, just me and him, and my husband in the evenings and at weekends, getting to know one another, cuddling up on the sofa all day.  I don’t think I stopped looking at him or carrying him around for the first year of his life.  I was so lucky to have had that time.

I don’t think I had less energy being an older mum than I would have as a younger one.  For one thing, I was much healthier at 39 than I was in my twenties; closer to my  healthy weight, better nourished, less stressed.  I remember telling my husband that, despite he sleep disturbances that come with a new baby, I had never felt so alive or energetic.  It was amazing to me, but the whole experience gave me such focus and positivity.  Our little chap is such a joy and has bought us nothing but pleasure.  We are lucky to have these experiences, at just the right time in our lives for us.

Caught Writing On Twitter

Friday, 4 November 2011

#Grooving Toes and Blogging Overload

Earlier this week I wrote a public declaration about becoming a #Grooving Mum feeling inspired by Kate On Thin Ice's blog hop. I'm only a few days in but progress is rather muted. I think I'm being rather hard on myself by expecting too much too soon. Mental note, must remind myself that Rome didn't groove in one day (groan). What I have noticed though is how much pressure I heap on myself which I guess is a constructive observation in the right direction.

But first a random picture of my anatomy.  Can you notice something odd, something almost extraordinary about these feet? No, it isn't the # tag sloping off the left foot or the blue smudged graffiti.  Taker a closer look. Can you see it? If you observe the two toes beside the big toe on each foot you will notice they are joined. Yes, joined.  I have four co-dependent toes. A two digit conurbation on both feet, merged in harmony, but with no separate identity of their own because THEY ARE JOINED. YOU FREAK OF NATURE. Run podiatrist run for your life. You see whilst I was an amorphous blob in utero both pairs of toes met over some cocktails at the gene pool party, very good soiree I am told, fell in love instantly and haven't separated since. Nope. No sureee. No chance of a decree nisi or a sordid toe swap here. Joined in happy union. <Sigh>. Now here comes that frustrating line from the Serenity Prayer ..... accept what you cannot change. Shrugs shoulders deflatedly. I accept my size 5 webbed feet and will write this on the blackboard a hundred times.

Where did these tootsies come from? Neither my parents or brothers posses them. I've studied my family tree and couldn't find any ducks. Apparently these toes are inherited from my great, great grandfather on my mother's side. Couldn't they have skipped a generation or two? T'was on holiday in Cornwall at the delicate age of 13 that I noticed my feet looked different to those paddling in the sea nearby. I have no idea why I hadn't noticed before. Maybes because I was at that awkward transient stage of girl/teenager/woman and with that an acutely more self conscious awareness of my physical idiosyncrasies.

But there are some advantages to my webbed feet. Firstly I've got good balance. Secondly I can swim. And finally they are potentially life saving as there is no chance of drowning when the ice caps melt and the River Thames engulfs greater London. But after speaking of my feet in quite a disparaging way I have to confess to being rather fond of them. They are totally unique, eccentric, and make me smile. So world I present to you my  ....... #grooving toes.

Now back to the opening gambit of the first paragraph. I demand too much from myself and this makes me miserable. I have this perfecting parental voice yakking on in my grey matter commanding 'you need to do this' or 'you have to complete X, Y, Z by tomorrow', blah, blah, broken record. It feels like a hammer beating against both sides of my skull making me tense, hurried and ungrounded. Wasn't my grade C school report good enough? 'Could do better'. Ugh. So referring back to my #grooving list I haven't made many in roads yet and find myself internally flogging myself with said parental hammer.  But on a positive note I have reread my charter each day so that it locks itself in my mind. This should help the process of manifesting my intent. Here are a couple of things I have done though ......

1. I injected a little spontaneity and fun into my routined life by taking part in Mammasaurus' What? Wednesday meme. Made me feel like a naughty school girl again and I loved the mischievous energy it constellated in me.

2. I often forget to apply my lotions and potions because I am (a) too busy with Little A in the mornings and then (b) too tired in the evening that I can't even be bothered to wash my face before I go to bed. So I've been taking care to follow my beauty 'anti-aging routine' in the morning and evening no matter what state I'm in. I'm feeling better for it as does my skin.

3. Last night I relaxed and enjoyed lots of guilty pleasure TV. I watched episode after episode of How I Met Your Mother rounded off by an installment of True Blood. I love True Blood. I just lose myself in its fantasy world of seductive vampires, witches and warepanthers (!?), and have to say that Stephen Moyer (vampire Bill) is very easy on the eye.

4. Today, after dropping Little A off at her childminders, I went directly to Tesco and treated myself to a custard danish. Now this isn't going in the direction of a healthier diet but it felt great rewarding myself with a scrummy breakfast.

5. I am acutely aware I'm experiencing blogging overload. I have subscribed to a number of great reads but now find myself daily inundated with a sea of new posts in my inbox. I want to read them all and leave thoughtful comments but I just haven't the time. Additionally any free moment I have seems to be spent on my PC either blogging or adding new content to Older Mum. I'm putting myself under an inordinate amount of pressure to do stuff. Blogging is meant to be a hobby not a burden. I need to structure my time. I could take a leaf from Purple Mum's brilliant organising skills and get myself a white board!

How do you organise your blogging time? How much time do you portion to reading other blogs? I would really like to know ......

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Guest Post - 'Tick Tock'

The first in a series of Older Mum guest posts is by the wonderfully witty and thought provoking Flossing the Cat.

I can't recommend her blog highly enough and I thoroughly look forward to reading her every week.

Enjoy .....


Once upon a time there was a young woman who didn’t want babies. She was too much of a fantasist, too selfish, too skint. But one day, when she was thirty-four, she woke up with a funny sound in her head. Tick-tock tick-tock tick-tock. The sound stayed with her the whole day, and the whole of the following day, and the whole of the day after that. If anything it got louder, much louder, eventually spreading to every part of her body. In her stomach it was like infrasound, making her feel sick. She could even feel it in her fingertips, when she touched things. She mentioned it to a friend, who said, “Sounds like the biological clock. You need a baby.”

Now that she had let the thought in, she knew it was true.  In fact, it seemed like the only true thought she had ever had. Her writing fantasies were nothing. Her PR job was nothing. The idea of travel, and adventure, and parties, and success, was nothing, less than nothing. She now saw them as hateful pursuits that had diverted her from becoming a mother. She gave her copies of The Female Eunuch, The Dialectic of Sex, The Second Sex, and The Rights of Woman to a charity shop. She hated her other dreams. She hated herself.

For a year, every time her period came, it felt like dying.  She would dream of flowers that had lost their petals, and bare white rooms, and deserted landscapes. In work one day, she was so stressed she couldn’t remember her telephone extension, or how to boot up the computer, or how to count money, so she went home. And she stayed home. Her relationship deteriorated, as did her sex life. Sex was all about ovulation, and basal body temperatures, and sticking her legs up, desperately, in the air. Her partner lost interest. She couldn’t blame him. For a while they split up, then got back together again.

When she hit 35, it got worse. Everywhere she tuned there  were apocalyptic stories about the declining fertility of over-35 year-olds. Fertility halves by the time you’re 35, said one expert. She googled stuff late into the night, desperate to find stories about older mothers, women who had beaten the  odds. When she finally became pregnant, a month or so after her 35th  birthday, she was so shocked that she did the test four times. At the same time, she knew it was true. All along, she had known it was possible, even probable, even likely.

She was an older woman. She was pregnant. She was great.

There was a child inside her body and she was great.

Flossing the Cat on Facebook
Flossing the Cat on Twitter

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

What? Wednesday - Le Supermarchet

I've been meaning to join in the wonderful What? Wednesday Mammasaurus meme thingy for a while now as its creative and fun and quite frankly I needed an opportunity to do something silly. This week I got all spontaneous and everything and gave it a shot. So what do you do? You basically write a note, draw a picture, or whatever shizzles your nizzle as long as you have your blog address emblazoned on it, stick it some where public and take a picture. Simples.

Anyways it's Monday morning. The skies are overcast and threatening that half hearted Autumnal drizzle mist that coats one in an unsatisfyingly damp spritz. Little A and I are about to head off on mission dry cleaners and le supermarchet.  Now I am a Tescos gal at heart but today we are going foraging in Sainsburys. Suddenly I have a light bulb What? Wednesday moment. I grab some felt tips and the nearest pad and I draw the below. No artistic feat I grant you but time was a ticking and Little A was getting impatient. The only thing I wished I'd changed was writing 'pervy' instead of 'sleazy' as I think this would've read better.

So we are in Sainsburgs and I'm surprisingly feeling a little nervous. Apples, bananas, broccoli and nappies get thrown in the trolley. I check out the dairy and cold meat sections but too many shoppers lolling about. I'm feeling self conscious. I know I have to break my What? Wednesday cherry.  In goes yogurt, pasta, cereal, raisins and bread and then my eyes set upon the quiet oasis that is the freezer section. 'Quick Little A, here's our chance. Lets go!'. 'Here's a good spot'. I halt in front of the frozen chips, look around me and then open my bag all the while anticipating a large shop assistant hand to clamp itself on my shoulder and frog march me away for interrogation and torture in a dim squalid room masquerading itself as 'staff canteen' beside the deli counter.  But this doesn't happen. My heart slows and I place my self endorsement on top of a family sized bag of McCain oven chips.  And here it resides ......

Secret assignment accomplished and we scidaddle tout de suite to the check out.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Grooving Older Mum

In the Celtic calendar Halloween is the New Year festival of Samhain. It marks the time of death and rebirth, of letting go of that which no longer serves us and celebrating our new intentions. With this in mind I have been appraising my life and where I'm at in the grand scheme of things.  I have also found myself drawn to Kate On This Ice's 'Getting Your Groove Back' blog hop. I have read some lovely, inspiring stories of women rediscovering themselves and their love of life outside the remit of mother. One tale I particularly enjoyed was by Mummy Plum in which she described a wonderfully self indulgent day out in West London involving an eclectic mix of antiques, books, clothes and acupuncture.

So this has got the mental cogs turning. Who am I now? What are my priorities? What's happened to the ME in the last two years? I have to admit to feeling particularly out of balance. Additionally I've spent so much time on my website and blog recently that its threatening to consume me. That's not healthy. So I need to take a step back and reconsider what's truly important.

So on my quest for equilibrium I wanted to share a couple of **memories with you BLA (Before Little A). **I had originally included photos of myself but decided to omit to preserve my anonymity.

1. Circa 2007 I went on holiday to Italy with Younger Dad. I was happy and carefree. I remember spending an afternoon in a bar with Younger Boyfriend, as he was known then, getting drunk on Chianti and playing a game of truth and dare. I can't remember the last time I was that squiffy. Oh yes I can, it was on my wedding day. Since Little A came along I've hardly touched any alcohol which is no bad thing as we are still breastfeeding or enjoyed a decent night out.

2. I don't think I have ever looked more elegant, more glamorous, more bling than I did on my wedding day. But when I reflect upon this momentous occasion I feel a little melancholic. You see Younger Dad and I never really had the chance to enjoy life as a married couple and I find myself lamenting this fact. Because I was already 38 we cracked on with mission baby on our honeymoon finding ourselves surprisingly pregnant one month later. Pregnancy and acute antenatal depression over shadowed our nuptials and within the blink of an eye we had Little A. Suddenly from newlyweds to parents. A couple no longer.

3. I recall Christmas 2009. I'm eight months pregnant and blissfully ignorant of what lies ahead. When Little A arrived I threw myself into my new role of utterly devoted mummy. I can confidently say that I am a wonderful mum to Little A. But where I succeeded with my beautiful little girl I failed in taking care of myself, my needs fell by the wayside, and I lost myself in the process. My health suffered in every way. A split took place between my old life and new life as a mother and I have often found it a challenge reconciling both these aspects of my identity.

So its time to start reclaiming me and pay a little more attention to my needs. I hereby declare myself a grooving mum. In the spirit of the Celtic New Year and Kate On Thin Ice's call to arms here is a list of self indulgent things I could do to help renew my mojo and replenish my spirit. I only intend to take this one step at a time and will promise to report back with any successes I may have.

Older Mum's Grooving List .....

1. Rest, relax and indulge: Hot bubble baths, hot chocolates, nights in front of the TV instead of geeking out on my PC and blog, reading, meditation, facials and holistic treatments.

2. Get up and go:  Swimming, cycling (I spent two years cycling around London back and forth to work and college), yoga, tai chi and lots of time spent walking outdoors in the fresh air. I am going to purchase a Zumba DVD; I read on a birth trauma charity website that it can assist healing the connection to ones body after physical shock.

3. Out with the old, in with the new: Not only do I need a haircut but my whole wardrobe needs an overhaul.  I haven't bought any new clothes in over two years. Yes, I know. I am still wearing my now very misshapen maternity and nursing tops. You can only imagine the state of their crusty armpits. Yukkity yuk.  Needless to say I am feeling very dowdy and in desperate need of an apparel adjustment.

4. You are what you eat: My current diet sucks. I used to be such a healthy bod pre baby. I'm eating too much of the wrong foods which I also happen to be sensitive to like wheat and dairy. I can see some kind of detox on the horizon. And I need to drink a lot more water.

5. Nurture relationships: Whether on the phone or face to face it would be great to see more of my friends and spend more quality time with Younger Dad. I think it would be a good idea to set myself a challenge of going out one night after putting Little A down to sleep.

6. Empire building: I am slowly returning to work as a counsellor but the process is taking longer than I thought. I haven't felt particularly ready owing to the birth trauma symptoms I have experienced over the last year or so. I am currently undergoing EMDR therapy specifically for trauma which is proving very effective and I'm starting to feel like the older, calmer me again. Once therapy has finished I intuitively know that I will be in a better place to start rebuilding my practise.

And now that I have made my intentions publically known to the task of walking the walk. I think I will start with a long hot soak in the bath .....

Silent Sunday

Friday, 28 October 2011

Mishaps One, Two and Three

Lately I've been doing a lot of reprocessing of Little A's birth hence the theme of the last two posts. On a scale of 0 to 10 where 10 is God Damn Awful I give the birth a 6. Probably not as traumatic as some of the horror stories I've read but the birth still affected me deeply all the same. I'm now undergoing EMDR therapy for PTSD symptoms to lay to rest the wounds that opened. EMDR what? Stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing and it's proving to be very effective. Will share more details in another post.

So anyway this is another birth story post but this time I want to inject some humour into three almost comical mishaps which happened during my 20 hour birthing extravaganza. I sometimes find that humour can help lessen the impact of shocking events ..... it's a useful defense mechanism of mine.

But first a quick detour.  What I had originally envisaged for Little A's birth was an 'almost pain free' hypnobirthing fest at home with music, candles and incense. I had imagined spending most of the second stage in the bath, probably morphing into something beyond a prune in the process, and then birthing on a lofty plateau of towels, plastic sheets and duvets by the bookcase in the living room. How intellectual of me.

Sad but true, I had even arranged specific pieces of music to be played at particular moments during the birth. If I can recall I had chosen a piece by Beethoven for the moment Little A crowned. I used to be a DJ so Younger Dad really had his work cut out on the ones and twos. No pressure at all then .......

Reminiscing I now find my head shaking in disbelief. What feckin planet was I on? How spectacularly naive of me. In hindsight I was so obviously in denial of what might actually happen. And on another related note who's idea was 'the birth plan' anyway? Numpty. I know its only meant to be one page but mine resembled a novella. Yes, it made me feel in absolute control of this imaginary birth, the control freak that I am, but didn't count for tuppence when proceedings eventually got under way.

So the due date, 12th January 2010, came and went, and after throwing everything at oiling the cogs of labour (raspberry leaf tea, nipple stimulation, acupuncture, acupressure, shiatsu, reflexology, cervical sweeps and star jumps in the local park which wasn't a pretty sight I can assure you at over 42 weeks gestation) I was booked in for an inpatient induction on the evening of 27th January.  And so finally to the three mishaps.

Mishap Number One

So Older Mum and Younger Dad rocked up to Queen Charlotte's for the inpatient induction. I was given a bed on a post natal ward with lots of new mothers getting to grips with their newborns. Their babies were out. Mine still resided under my mountainous bump. The doctor arrived to administer the prostaglandin and uninvited cervical sweep.

Younger Dad went home thanks to rather odd hospital regulations leaving me to brave the twilight hours on my own. He then arrived all bright and breezy the next morning to an ashen faced Older Mum. 'Are you ready to start a family' he said cheerily. 'What?' I said exasperatingly.  I hadn't slept at all. My waters literally exploded an hour after the prostaglandin was administered.  This ushered in labour and strong contractions which became more powerful as dawn beckoned. By morning my 'birth waves' (hypnobirthing speak) were so painful courtesy of Little A lying back to back that it felt as if Beelzebub himself had pronged a white hot fork into my back and left it there. Add to that I felt vulnerable and humiliated after several internal examinations during the night.

'Get the tens machine on me now!'

Younger Dad fumbled about nervously hooking up the wires and then ..... and then ..... turned up the dial full whack sending an electrical volt to rival the the national grid's maximum outage through out my body. I would have preferred shoving a wet finger in a live socket. The hospital walls reverberated to the sound of 'You stoooopid maaaaaaaaaan!!!!!!!!' (exclamation marks do not do this justice). To add insult to injury the shock dispatched a massive back bone contorting contraction. 'Gas and air ...... NOooooW!'

Mishap Number Two

Fast forward about 8 hours. I have a stubborn, nonchalant, underachieving cervix. It wouldn't dilate any further than 2 cms. We were now housed in a private room situated on the birthing suite. To encourage my idle cervix to open its doors I decided to augment to syntocinon which proved too much for my diminutive frame. Contractions were off the scale and I demanded an epidural. As the anaesthetist's assistant removed the tens machine from my back what happened? You guessed right. She accidentally turned up the dial to maximum strength blasting my body with another full force voltage. Oh dear dear. Again, I would have preferred sharing a bath with a live radio, tuned into Radio Four's Woman's Hour of course. I screamed and almost flew off the bed in shock. My midwife gave me a huge hug. The poor assistant's eyes said it all, 'please don't sue me, please don't sue me'. Cue mass apology. It was an accident. Apology accepted.

Mishap Number Three

Syntocinon was running through my veins. I couldn't feel a thing thanks to the epidural. But the contractions proved too strong for Little A. She became distressed and her heart rate plummeted. Before I knew it I was being rushed towards the operating theatre like a scene out of ER for an emergency c-section. I was truly terrified that Little A was going to die. And what song was being played on the operating theatre duke box?  I still can't quite get over this. Only 'Killing Me Softly' by the Fugees. WTF !!!!!! Now the fact that I used to be a DJ assumes I have an ear for music. And this really wasn't a good choice of tunage. Next time I have a c-section I'll request the Empire Theme from Star Wars instead.

And finally whilst we are all in the recovery area and I'm eagerly awaiting to hold Little A  what did the mid wife say whilst putting on her first nappy? She only warned her what a cruel world it is out there. Welcome to the world Little A! Younger Dad and I looked at each other aghast.
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