Tuesday, January 17

A Confused Mummy

Today I am a confused mummy. Well,  most days I am a confused mummy but today I am struggling with some of my feelings.
I wonder what it is like to have an "average" baby.
I wonder if there is such an encompassing thing as an "average" or "normal" baby or experience of having one.

There are daily reminders that I have a premature baby who has had some struggles. She is brilliant and amazing and as feisty as the next temperamental feisty madam but as sole parent and carer I am feeling a bit swamped at times both with all the information I have to take on board and all the running around to appointments I still have to keep. Is this normal?! I frankly have no idea any more. 

Wriggles, or her new temporary nickname Noisebag, is a little over 16 months and 13 corrected. To date we are currently under neonatology, paediatrics, neurology (luckily her consultant paed doubles up as this to reduce clinics!), dieticians, physiotherapy and are awaiting the referral from speech and language. Thankfully we have now been released from community nursing, respiratory and social work, (which we were automatically under as she had spent a certain period of time in hospital so you automatically get a helpful form-filler-er, not because I am incompetent; at least that is the information I was given....). We also have to attend very regular weigh-ins as Wriggles/Noisebag still generally refuses solids or gags about 70% of the time and as I have had a few blip-y moments along the way, I have to report every now and then to the GP and Health visitors to affirm I have no intention of jumping off a cliff or do not wander about Sainsburys wringing my hands and howling for England. My HV has decided that obviously it has all come about because I do not regularly attend infant massage groups. I can tell her that I have no concern about my bond with Wriggles but am just exhausted from weekly hospital visits until I am blue in the face but she still keeps turning up at my front door with a grubby plastic doll and sunflower oil trilling about the benefits.

 At present, excepting the weekend, every day I am not at work, I am attending an outpatient clinic for Wriggles, ferrying around to appointments or pacifying a nude Noisebag in the community scales at the Postnatal Centre. Now time is moving on, we have started receiving invites for groups of "additional needs" children also, which gives me very mixed feelings. I do not see Wriggles as having additional needs. Lags/delays yes, I fully accept that, but additional needs? She doesn't need extra care or specific skills to look after her at present. She might be doing things at her own pace but so far there is nothing I think she won't do and as far as I am aware this view is shared by the doctors. It really is a hard one; obviously I wouldn't give two hoots if she did need extra care and help, as she is my star and I love her unequivocally. I don't want to seem selfish as I am very aware we are lucky to be in 'the system' and in an area where there is a range of activities for children of all stages and have some professionals that go above and beyond their jobs. It is great that there is help to nudge her in the right direction and iron out some bumps as they show up, really it is. Honest. I'm sure if we didn't get these opportunities then I would be on my soapbox grumping about exclusions and worrying frantically that she wouldn't catch up or ever eat more than a bit of mashed banana once a month.

The "problem" if indeed there is one and I am not utterly crackers, is that when we go to a "normal" Mother and Baby group, I still often feel like I am from another planet and when we go to a "special" group I feel a complete fraud. Throughout year one of having a little creature, I spent the first two months in hospital followed by three months as a hermit with a baby on oxygen in the winter months when RSV was rife and my road was closed off due to snowdrifts and ice. There was then a marvellous hiatus of a few weeks when I began to go out and about, had more visits from friends, began to wean her with success and began to address the impending return to work. Then we abruptly wound up in intensive care and spent the next six months being in and out and in and out and in and out and in and you get the picture. Thankfully things have calmed down after birthday numero uno and I have deliberately made two term-long booking at baby groups on my days off to make sure that we get out, socialise and do normal things between the dreaded appointments. We have been for coffee with mums and babies and began to find our feet on days off together and it is a teeny weeny bit scary but marvellous. Tentatively, I have even told the 'story' to fellow mums I see, against my HV's 'advice' that I will scare them off and they will avoid us-so far this has proved to be utter codswallop and no one picks friendships in this way, especially given that whatever has happened, what is happening now is that we all have increasingly chaos-inducing mess-making becoming-independent darlings/monsters/I-could-have-sworn-she-was-a-tiny-baby-only-yesterday's and all feel like a bit of a joke every now and then even with a beautiful house and a Mr Darcy lookalike husband. I just wish there were more days in the week, or that no one had to work, to be able to spend more time doing this and less time sat in the waiting rooms clutching medical notes. I miss the year I lost out on swanning around to groups and gazing into my baby's eyes as it feels like I spent a lot of it sat anxiously at a cot-side in hospital.

I know in my heart of hearts that most people feel like this. So many of us are torn between mummy duties and well, the rest of life. Faced with the media, literature and swathes of advertising portraying Perfection, all parents, all people stumble around trying their best and adjusting their ideas like crazy to find their own corner of reality.

The main thing is I have a very nice baby and generally, life is pretty good.

So my new New Years Resolutions are: 

1. spring-clean brain
2. stop grumbling
3. look forwards not backwards (you WILL trip over or walk into a proverbial lampost)


  1. Thanks for linking up, the kettles on and I'll send you of a nice slab of cake!

    One of the main problems seems to be your midwife. Imagine telling you not to talk about what you're going through, no wonder you're feeling like you don't fit in. Of course you won't scare them off and if you did they're not people you'd want to talk to anyway. It's advice like that that gives people post natal depression.

    I don't think there is such a thing as normal or average. Everyone has to find their own normal. Sounds like you've been through a really tough year and a half. Hospitals are such stressful places to be in. Your little one sounds a cracker though. I wouldn't worry too much about the mother and baby groups. I think they are mainly for the mummies really, babies don't really care where they are but mums desperately need to get out the house.

    I hope you're able to get out more, and the hospital visits ease off a bit.

    Right I'm off now to look at all your posts and see if theres a pic of you're farcy lookalike hubby!

  2. Wait a minute just read your biog, saying single mum, sorry I missed that first time. blimey you've done all that on your own? thats amazing. No wonder you are feeling like this.

    Your little one is incredibly lucky to have you as a mother.

  3. Thanks Rebecca. I'm going to put an enormous sign of my fridge proclaiming that normal is old news! So easy to forget that all mummies have bad days and that that is well, normal!

  4. Ok a bit of inside info- 'average' babies, seriously they don't exist. Neither do average parents! The parenting culture is utterly weird/strange/bazaar. Nothing average about any of it. As for community groups, mine sucks, I mean seriously,do I care what's on buy one get one free at tesco? Do I really want to waste ten minutes of my life talking about ellas kitchen pouches? Like reeaaally?
    Any way. My local bliss group was much better. There wasn't one available when I was first discharged but I helped set one up with some other girls and we now have an active local group. It's soooo much better. Critically analysing professional approaches to dealing with premmy mums is one of our favourite pass times! and best of all it's not full of people trying to be perfect! Have u ever thought about setting up one of these?

  5. Hmmmm cheers for confirming my suspicions Leanna! You mean there is more to parent-based-community-groups than the which-baby-sleeps-the-least competitions? Brilliant!! So far no one I've spoken to even bothers with the Tesco latest offers gossip as the local hangout is Asda so permenantly on offer....sigh. We don't have a local Bliss group which is bizarre as I'm pretty sure that our unit is the regional one. It is something I've been thinking about, coming out of the woodshed and starting a group. We do have a prolific nearly new fundraising group for the unit which I've signed up to help with so I'm sure a tea and biscuits based grumping group could arise out of that surely?! Was it (fairly) easy to get interested peeps?