Mummy Fail?

“Mummy Fail”. I had never heard or used this term, before I had my daughter. I had always believed there were either ‘good mothers’ or ‘bad mothers’. I know, how could I have been so naive, so black and white? I had no idea. I have no idea.

19 months since becoming a mother to my daughter, and most days I can’t even tell you if I am a ‘good’ mother or a ‘bad’ mother.

I can tell you that some days, by the time I put my daughter to bed, I am so exhausted, so stressed, so strung out from the tantrums, or the crying, or the battles over food, or a combination of all of the above that i just sit and cry. I wonder what the hell I’m doing wrong that makes this so freakin hard.

I can tell you that by the second or third time that she has woken overnight, I sit next to her cot, crying, as I try and pat her back off to sleep. And when that doesn’t work, sometimes I shout at her ‘JUST GO TO SLEEP!’. Then I hate myself, a little , for shouting at her. I go and wake my husband, because I know I’m losing it. I tell him I hate my life, and I crawl under the doona and cry, whilst he takes his turn to try and get her back to sleep.

I can tell you that some days I am so tired, so mentally and physically exhausted, that I put one TV show after another on for her, just so I can breath, and think, and not lose my mind. Then I hate myself a little, as I remember all the articles I’ve read about how bad television is for children, as they shouldn’t even watch any television before they are 2 years old, let alone two episodes of Hi5 in a row.

I can tell you that sometimes I honestly feel like I hate being a mother. That I am no good at it, that I am failure, that I am messing everything up. The term ‘Mummy Fail’ should hang around my neck, like a scarlet letter.

I can tell you that I wish someone had told me being a mother could feel like this. That there is no such thing as a ‘text book baby’. How can there be, when every damn book is different?? That being a mother is wonderful, and amazing, and joyful, however it is also the hardest thing you will ever do. That you will doubt every decision you make, that you will be so tired some days that from the moment you wake up, you will be focused on just getting through the day, and getting back in bed again. That your worst enemy, at times, will be other mothers. That some women will cut you down, tell you what you are doing is wrong, attack your choices, and, the biggie, judge you. It will happen, at least once.

I can tell you, that no matter how many other mothers judge you, it will be nothing, NOTHING compared to how harshly you will judge yourself. As a mother, you are your own worst critic. At the risk of making assumptions, I think I can tell you why that is too.

A good mother is never going to be able to meet her own expectations. A good mother, loves their child so much, that they want to be the perfect mother. A good mother is always going to declare a ‘mummy fail’, as there is no such thing as a perfect mother. They are a myth, along with the ‘text book baby’. A good mother is going to make mistakes, and is going to feel guilty about every single one . A good mother knows there is no such thing as black and white when raising a child, just all shades of grey, mixed with a kaleidoscope of crayon colours.

So, maybe today, I can tell you that I’m a good mother. That I love my daughter more than I ever imagined possible, and I tell her that several times a day, even on our worst days. Maybe today, I can believe that I am not doing such a bad job.

I can tell you, beyond a doubt, that good mothers are not perfect, they just wish they were. xx

Hospital Daze.

On the 24th of November 2010, we finally walked out of hospital with our daughter, after a month in the NICU and Special Care Nursery. As far as I was concerned, I never wanted to see another hospital ever again. Ironically I had planned on writing a post about our NICU experience this week. Instead, I am writing about Milla’s latest experience in hospital, just last week.

She hadn’t been well for a few days. Her temperature kept spiking, it would come down with medication, then as soon as it wore off, straight back up again. She would wake in the middle of the night, burning up, and vomitting from fever. She had been to the Dr already, and he said it was a virus, keep her fluids up, etc etc. We just couldn’t keep this damn temperature down, as her medication wore off, she would become flushed, lethargic and miserable.

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When I took her temperature on Tuesday, and it read 40 degrees, I felt my heart jump into my throat. I took it twice more, just in case it was wrong, 39.9 , 40.0. CRAP.

We soon found ourselves in the emergency department of our local hospital. Where we waited for over 2 hours, with our toddler who was burning up, and screaming. Actually, the screaming was probably a good thing, as eventually I think we were ‘rushed’ through, just so the waiting room could get some peace and quiet again.

Something to know about Milla, she’s not really a fan of other adults. She is a very sensitive little girl, and rarely tolerates being held or sometimes even spoken to by anyone other than myself or her daddy. A health nurse told us once that it could be due to her time in NICU, every time someone came near her, it generally brought pain. Blood tests, drips, feeding tubes, breathing apparatus. She did not have a gentle introduction to the world, and it seems to have affected her social/emotional development.  With this in mind, being examined by drs and nurses does not go down well.

She screamed hysterically when they just tried to listen to her heart. When they said that they were going to have to put a drip in, I felt a clench in my stomach. They said we could wait outside. No. I would be there for my daughter. They wrapped her tightly in a blanket, with just her arm out, whilst they attempted, several times, to put an IV into her little tiny arm. I wondered if she remembered this pain from when she was born? Did she have flashbacks to her time in NICU? I know I did. I stroked her forehead, and whispered shhh, over and over again. I think this was to calm me, as much as it was to calm her. By this stage though, she was almost beyond burning up, and was so lethargic, she was slipping in and out of sleep, even as the Dr was still working on the IV. I didn’t know whether to be relieved that she was not screaming, or panicked that she seemed so out of it.

They finally gave her something to bring her temperature down, which had been hovering around 40 degrees. She slept for a while, somehow in that noisy emergency department.Then we had to take her for a chest xray. I held her down whilst she screamed. At least I knew it wasn’t hurting her, she was just scared. (just scared? That’s bad enough really)

Back came the Dr. Her blood results showed an infection. Despite managing to get a urine sample, which also showed infection, the Dr decided she wanted a more accurate sample, which involved inserting a catheter to get it straight from the bladder. I felt that clench in my stomach again. By this time we were on the ward. As I carried my little girl to the procedure room, already with an IV in her arm, I tried not to think about what was going to happen. Where I was taking her. I had the option not to be in the room, but again, I said no. Of course it would be easier for me to just wait in another room, not see what they did to her, not hear her crying. But why should I have the easier way out? She was the one going through the pain, I would be strong for her. As I held her down, whilst another Dr held her legs, and yet another Dr inserted the catheter, she screamed and screamed and screamed. She fought against me, she fought against the Drs. Again I kept whispering ‘shhhh’ ‘it’s ok’ ‘it’s nearly over’ and ‘I’m sorry’. And I was, so so sorry, that my baby girl had to go through this. I tried to be strong for her, but the tears escaped, spilling from my eyes. I imagined her wondering why her mummy was letting people do this to her, why was her mummy helping them do this to her? Finally it was over, I held her so tight, and just kept whispering over and over again, ‘I’m sorry’.

She screamed most of the night, on and off. She screamed when they came back in to hook up antibiotics, and discovered her IV was loose and had to reinsert it. She screamed as her temp crept back up, and she started shivering and shuddering. She screamed when she threw up all over herself, the cot and me. She screamed and cried and screamed all night.

At about 5.30am, she finally fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion. At 6.30am, her temp spiked again, and she woke up vomiting. I was exhausted, I had vomit on me, my body ached from leaning over the cot all night, from holding her down for one procedure to the next. But the worst pain was in my heart. Watching my baby girl go through so much, hearing those screams, wondering what she was thinking, did she feel betrayed by me? Imagining how scared and confused she was. Relishing the few moments that she managed to sleep, grateful that she had at least a little peace.

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When the Dr came and told me that she wanted to put a feeding tube through her nose and down her throat, my instant reaction was NO. Please, no more procedures, please don’t hurt her anymore. I desperately tried to get her to drink. ‘C’mon baby, you have to drink, please drink’ I begged her. The Drs were adamant. I tried to be strong, but I couldn’t stop the tears, as I tried to convince them to give her fluid through the drip that she was already connected to. No.

Once again, I carried her to that damn procedure room. They bandaged her hands so she couldn’t pull the tube out. Once again, I held my baby down, whilst she screamed and thrashed around. Once again, I whispered meaningless words, that she wouldn’t even be able to hear over her screams. My tears flowed freely now. “I’m sorry baby”.

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Can you believe, a couple of hours after this photo was taken, we were allowed to take Milla home?! She was so upset, so distraught, that’s the real reason i think she wasn’t drinking or sleeping. She needed to be at home, where she felt safe and comfortable. The Dr agreed. We could give her antibiotics at home, they had already pumped so many through her IV over the past 24 hours or so. As long as we could get her to drink, otherwise she would need to come back. Thank God we were right, and once she was home, she drank nearly her whole bottle of milk.

Later that night, when I finally went to bed, after being awake for around 40 hours, I lay in bed and cried, silent tears. My body felt like I had run a marathon. My muscles were so sore, so sore from holding my daughter down, whilst people hurt her. Her screams still echoed in my head. I’m not silly, I know the reality of the situation was that she wasn’t actually that ill, that the Drs were helping her, that so many children go through far, far worse than she did. But she is my daughter, I am her mother. It is my role to protect her. It goes against nature to pin your child down, whilst they scream in pain and terror.

Being a parent can be hard work, every day. It can be tiring and exhausting and frustrating. Being a parent, when your child is sick, is not just hard work, it is heartbreaking. The reward is, when they get better. They smile and laugh, and seem to forget all about the ordeal they went through. And as a parent, it’s our job to dust ourselves off, harden up and move on.  How does the saying go,  Motherhood is a piece of your heart walking around outside your body”. xx 

Missing “ME”.

I want to preface this post, with the fact that I love my daughter and husband more than anything in the world. Would die for them, either of them, in a second. I know how blessed I am to have them, not for one day do I forget that. But still. Tonight, this Friday night, I miss ‘Me’.

There is a reason why I named my blog ‘The Hesitant Housewife’. Because I want to be that person, so badly. I want to be the housewife, the stay at home mother. I want to completely rock it, to be honest. I want this life, to be me. But, just quietly, I wonder if I will always be hesitant. I wonder if it will ever come naturally to me, whether I can 100% commit to the person I want to be. Because tonight, I miss “Me”. I miss the person that wasn’t my daughters mother, my husbands wife.

I miss the ‘Me’ that could be ridiculously irresponsible, and the only person who would pay would be me.

I miss the ‘Me’ that didn’t wake up every morning, and have to be responsible for a whole other life.

I miss the ‘Me’ that was fun, and crazy, and spontaneous.

I miss the ‘Me’ that put make up on, straightened her hair, wore clothes other than singlets and shorts/tracksuit pants.

I miss the ‘Me’ that left the house, and went to work. Chatted and joked with people, adult people.

I miss the ‘Me’ that was a coordinator, that demanded respect from people. People who didn’t giggle, and laugh, and run across the room. People that listened, because they had to. People who, though I didn’t realise it at the time, validated me, and what I had to say.

I miss the ‘Me’ that cares. Cares that I hadn’t shaved my legs, cares that I am wearing the same maternity shorts that I’ve worn for the last 3 days. Cares that I really don’t care anymore.

As much that I have wanted this, to be a mum, to be a wife, for my whole life, surely, I must be more? Surely I have not been dissolved by all that I have attained to be?

I love my daughter. I love my husband. I want to be everything to them. But, I want to be ‘Me’ too.

If only I knew who ‘Me’ was.

Am I the only one that feels this? Or are other “Mummies’ fumbling their way back to “Me” too? xx

The Wedding.

So, last weekend I got married. It was a surprise wedding, only our parents, and at the last minute, a few friends who nearly couldn’t make it, knew. I should preface this post by saying that I have been married before. I wont taint this with all the gory details, but the crux of it was, I was with someone for 7 years, and had the so called ‘fairytale’ wedding to the wrong person. We got married in a beautiful old church, I had the fancy dress, the band, we even had a harpist. We spent a ridiculous amount of money, on a day that meant nothing in the big scheme of things. We were separated after 10 months, and should never, ever have gotten married.
I met my husband 2 years ago today. We have a 13 month old daughter and have been married a week and 2 days. And I know, beyond a doubt, that this will be forever. I think we have both always known that. When I fell pregnant, after 3 months, we didn’t panic. Sure, it was earlier than intended, but it was always going to happen. We were in love, perhaps from the moment we first met. We talked about marriage, as a ‘one day’. One day when we had money, one day when we had the time. One day. We contemplated eloping, just the three of us, but knew that our parents would probably never forgive us.

So one day, about 3 months ago, as we ate dinner at our kitchen table at home, the idea came up of a surprise wedding at our daughters first birthday. All the people we loved and cared about would be there anyway. We didn’t need all the pomp and show. We just wanted to be husband and wife. We already knew a celebrant. The only other thing I really wanted was a photographer, as we had no really nice ‘family’ photos. So that night, it was decided, we would get married. In three months!
I organised everything over the internet and facebook. I ordered my dress from overseas, super cheap. (In the end, one of my beautiful friends paid for it, as a wedding present, you know who you are!) I found a photographer on facebook, organised a small bouquet of mixed flowers from a local florist, my ‘fiance’ hired a suit. All of that was just details. My previous marriage had been all about the wedding. This time, it was about the marriage. The commitment to the man I loved. I would have married him in my pj’s at a registry office, as long as I was marrying him.

Despite the haste, not for a moment did I ever doubt what we were doing. Not for a single second. We wanted the day to be mainly about our daughter, and celebrating her birthday, so we just wanted a simple, quick ceremony at the start, then make the rest of the day all about her. We didn’t want speeches, or dances, or presents. Actually, more to the point, we didn’t need any of that. We just wanted to be husband and wife, and celebrate our miracle girls first birthday.
The day arrived, and I will admit, there was a slight ‘bridezilla’ moment at the torrential rain that poured the entire day, (the ceremony had been planned for outside, along with photos in the winery) But once I arrived, and walked down the makeshift aisle towards my future husband, and saw him fighting back tears (he will hate me for sharing that!) I was just so happy. So damn happy, you couldn’t wipe that smile off my face. I was beaming. Everything I had ever wanted was standing in front of me, declaring his love and commitment to me. Hands down, best day of my life.

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When the celebrant announced us as husband and wife, and presented us to all our friends and family, I felt home. I felt that this was the moment, the place, that I had been striving for, all of my adult life.

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Marriage really does change things. Although everything is essentially the same, I feel different. I feel secure, and calm and at ease. I look at my husband, and I know, that no matter what life throws at me in the future, I will not be alone. That we will face it together. That even if it all gets too much, and I fall in a heap, for the first time in my life, there will be somebody there to pick me back up and hold me until I put myself back together again. I am not alone anymore. xxIMG_6626-199x300

I don’t know.

I have always wanted to be a mother. My whole life, I’ve truly believed that is what I was meant to do. I think I have even possibly uttered the phrase- “I was born to be a mother”. I have worked for many years in childcare, looking after other peoples children, and thinking I knew exactly what I was doing.
The reality is, now that I finally have my own child, the one thing I have desperately wanted, I have absolutely no clue. None whatsoever. I have never felt so incompetent in my life. I’m not an idiot, I didn’t think it would be easy, as such. But I had no idea how hard it would be. I thought I knew what I was doing. I don’t. I do a really good job of pretending though. I think even my partner believes my charade. She cries, and he looks at me, ‘what’s wrong with her?’ I am, after all, the expert. I’m great with kids, have years of experience, was a good childcare worker. Unfortunately, the only answer that comes to mind, is that I have no bloody idea. Maybe ask the postman, because I don’t have a clue. I thought I was so clever, I wont fall into all those traps that other parents do. I never rocked my baby to sleep, never put her to sleep in the pram. I didn’t want her to rely on ‘props’ you see, to go to sleep. Of course, now she is nearly 12 months old, and will not sleep anywhere except for her cot. That kind of rules out leaving the house for long periods of time. And I still have to pat her off to sleep at least one sleep a day. That is if she will go to sleep at all. Never pictured myself sitting next to the cot, in tears, begging her to Just. Go. To. Sleep. Just F#@%ing Go To Sleep. Because, I’ve dealt with hundreds of babies that wouldn’t settle. I’ve never cried or lost patience at those babies. Because I knew what I was doing.
My baby wont eat. Clamps her mouth shut, turns her face to the wall, and if all else fails, screams bloody murder. I don’t know why. I feel like I should know why, I should have the answer, but I don’t. I do what all those ‘clueless’ parents of children I used to look after do, and offer her everything under the sun to try and get her to eat. And when that doesn’t work, I cry. Again. She fights all her bottles. She fights getting dressed. She fights getting undressed. She fights her nappies. She wont go to other people. She screams in anger if I don’t come to her attention fast enough. She wakes at 5am almost every morning, despite me trying every technique in every book I can get my hands on. She has somehow managed to possess every bad habit, of every child I have looked after. And I don’t know why. By the end of the day, I feel like I have spent the whole day bashing my head against a brick wall. My partner works two jobs. I have a medical condition that prevents me from driving. So it’s just me and her. Every day, all day.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore my daughter. She is gorgeous, and in between all this drama, she is delightful, full of smiles and giggles and sloppy kisses. I love her to pieces. And that makes it worse. Because I want to do the right thing by her. I am the adult, I am the mother. so I should know what I’m doing. I should be in control of the situation. I should not be in tears, wondering what the hell I should do. I should be better.
I asked for help today. Because I’m not coping. I’m struggling, and I want to be a better mother to my daughter. She deserves better. So I rang the health nurse, and have organised for some ‘Enhanced’ care, where they come out and talk to me in my home, and give me some strategies. I know it was the right thing to do. But still, I feel like such a failure. I really thought I would be better than this. I really thought I would know.
Part of me is a bit ashamed of this post. Kind of ruins the image that I have been trying to keep up, that I am, of course, the ‘perfect’ mother. But the other part of me is wondering, maybe I’m not alone? Maybe there are a lot of us out there who just don’t know. And maybe another mother will read this and realise that she is not alone. One thing I actually do know, motherhood can feel like the loneliest job of all. xx