Monday, 22 February 2016

Winging It In Motherhood | The Not So Perfect Parent

Emme 1-0 Mummy

Having babies is the only thing I've ever been sure about in my life! I've always been very maternal and I could never imagine a life without children. Even though me and Dan met at a very young age, we knew very early on that having a family of our own was something that we both wanted in life so when I was diagnosed with PCOS and told that having children could become a problem for me I think we were both pretty heartbroken to say the least! Emme wasn't exactly planned (yes, it happens) but when I found out I was pregnant I couldn't have been happier, it felt like my life finally had a purpose!
Even before I fell pregnant with Emme, I would always gather parenting inspiration from Pinterest, losing myself in the endless ideal world of having our first child and once I became pregnant this addiction only increased! I read websites upon websites, article after article and more blogposts than I can count, on how to be the perfect parent! Oh the things I was going to do! I vowed that my children would never watch tv, that they would be exclusively breastfed, that I would baby wear as often as I could, that I would never allow them to associate feeding with sleep, that we would have a bedtime routine right from the very beginning and that they would never sleep in my bed and the list goes on! Enter Emme Sienna, my perfect little baby who developed severe colic and reflux early on, who struggled to latch on properly and refused to latch on at all without a nipple shield after mummy introduced one in desperation, the Velcro baby who only ever wants to be attached to mummy, who hated her Moses basket from the very beginning and would only settle when co-sleeping, who will only give mummy two seconds of peace if some intriguingly bright colours on the tv catch her attention and who insists on being rocked or fed to sleep and most definitely prefers the latter. My perfect tiny human creation who ruled our lives from the very second she was born and threw all of my perfect parenting plans right out of the window with the dummies! 

At first I panicked, I wasn't doing everything by the book, to be honest I pretty much wasn't doing anything by the book and that's what I was supposed to be doing right?! But what if the health visitor didn't agree with the way my plans had changed? But what if people thought I was a bad parent? Heck even I thought I was starting to become a bad parent!

At first I couldn't get my baby to sleep in her Moses basket, I started to fall asleep with her on my chest, I knew this was dangerous and I was going against everything I had read but then you try continuous broken sleep and a baby who refuses to be put down and if you can stay fully awake every time that baby falls asleep on you, then I salute you because I tried, oh I tried so hard but the mixture of very little and severely broken sleep, the comfort of breastfeeding and the sleep inducing cuddles made staying awake near on impossible for me! After two weeks of well and truly failing to familiarise Emme with her Moses basket, we finally caved in and bought a Sleepyhead Deluxe, something that we initially splurged on in desperation but that truly became worth every single penny! Sure, I was still co-sleeping and I was terrified to admit doing so to the health visitor, I don't think she thought it was the best idea but to me, it was far safer than Emme continuing to sleep on me and Dan and it has to be our best baby purchase so far!

Then there was breastfeeding, the one thing I was so determined to do from the start, Em fed like a dream in hospital and I felt so lucky to have a baby who took to it so well but then we came home, at first we still did well but I was sore, I gritted my teeth and silently sobbed every time Em fed from me, in desperation I introduced a nipple shield, the relief it gave me led to me using it a little too long and by the time I stopped using it, Em refused to feed without it. I then started to struggle with every aspect of breastfeeding and when emotions got the better of me, I gave up instead of asking for help. I was so mad at myself, breast is best after all right?! I felt like I disappointed so many people by giving up, I felt like I had let Em down and by giving Em formula, I felt like I was essentially feeding her poison because I had been so brainwashed by 'the books' but we both became a lot happier with bottle feeding for so many reasons and although I wish that I'd just asked for help and continued, I do know that I made the right decision for both of us.

My latest 'failure' is weaning, every mum on IG with a baby similar in age to Emme seem to have it covered, baby led weaning seems to be such a huge hit and I can't help but feel I've become the worst mum ever. We started weaning Em at 17 weeks due to her reflux and I loved it, seeing her face react to each new flavour and listening to her enthusiasm as she mmmd and ahhhd over each mouthful had me so excited for mealtimes! After trying her with a few Ella's kitchen pouches to ease us both in, I started making Em's purees myself, I would batch cook once a week and freeze them all, removing them and placing them in the fridge the night before I needed them to defrost. Then I was told on Emme's last health visitor visit that we needed to be moving on to mashed foods and finger foods, I had already introduced mashed foods and Em loved sharing a banana with me but one night a month or so back I let her gum on a rice cake after her tea, she was doing so well and then she choked on the last piece. I was alone and the whole thing terrified me, she threw up afterwards and I sobbed, I'm not too great at keeping calm in situations and now I'm terrified to feed her anything! I so badly want to try baby led weaning but my heart is in my stomach every time I feed her because I'm terrified of it happening again. So we've gone back to pouches, while I gain my confidence back, I choose Ella's kitchen because they're organic and I know they don't have any hidden or nasty ingredients in them so it makes me feel a tiny fraction less guilty that I'm not making it myself, we've moved onto stage 2 so that Em can still benefit from new textures and we strictly only give em finger food or something new when daddy or someone else is around, we're taking it at our own pace and I'm starting to come to terms with it.

I think sometimes it can be so easy to get caught up in the whole perfect parent brigade and feel so inadequate when we aren't doing the things that others seem to be perfecting. I see so many mums on social media who just seem to have it all covered but it's so easy to feel like your failing when we only see the highlights of everyone's lives (the highlights that they get to pick and choose to post) but what we have to remember is that behind that perfect picture could be so much more that we don't know about, so much more to their story, just like there is to ours! Just because someone has got that one thing down to a tee, it doesn't mean that they don't make mistakes or that they follow the book completely, they're most likely thinking that they don't have it covered either because they're still human, they're learning their own way how to become a parent and they'll make mistakes too but that's ok! It's ok to make your own choices and it's OK to break the rules because after all rules are there to be broken right?!

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