The Fourth Trimester

I have been very ranty and giving out a lot  of late and have been told I am too self- deprecating (!) . So here we go, something I learned to be very good at.

The new one- a few hours old.

The new one- a few hours old.

I enjoyed the newborn stage with all my children. With my first child it was a mix of awe, panic, sleep deprivation and wonder. With my second it was just as wondrous but we worried  way too much about making sure the first-born wasn’t excluded . When my third was born, I was fully relaxed and I enjoyed that time even though it was chaotic with three children under four but I know with all three of them I put unrealistic expectations on myself and I got stressed or worried about things that I really shouldn’t have. Then came the new one who is now four months old and finally I mastered the fourth trimester.

Granted I had some luck on my side, her birth was awesome and I think as a result of that everything in the first couple of weeks just fell into place. The high after she was born lasted a lot longer this time, every day, I wondered would the bad crash and all the hormonal tears arrive but they never did, life was easy. I had no physical side affects, no physical recovery and feeding was completely problem free and remains to be. Luck has definitely been with me this time as well as experience.

I don’t think she knew she had been born for the first ten or so days of her life. We took a lot of baths together and she would curl up in the bath with my hand under her head and sleep, every so often moving her hands and legs around slowly. She looked like how I imagine babies look like in the womb. She slept a lot the first ten days, I watched her sleep some of the time and I slept some of the time. Her brother and sisters held her tiny hands and she was kissed a lot.

Real life resumed but for the first time I said yes to absolutely everything that was offered. People brought food, friends and family helped out with the school runs. Some days I got dressed and went out because I wanted to, some days I had to. Other days I got back into bed with her. I done what I wanted most of the time.  When my other children were born, I turned down a lot of offer of help, stupidly. I think I thought I had some point to prove, that I could manage or something ridiculous. I could manage this time too but jesus help is brilliant, I said yes to everything that allowed me more time to sit on the couch with the baby or lie on the couch with the baby or sit and eat all the food with the baby on my lap. I didn’t quite conquer the whole sleep when your baby sleeps but I definitely conquered watch box sets when your baby sleeps and eat more food when your baby sleeps.

HMC2

I also learned to just say no this time to things I couldn’t go to. I remember having a complete meltdown in my bedroom a couple of weeks after one of my babies was born. Trying to express, trying to find something to wear, trying not to cry because actually I didn’t want to attend a party I had said I would go to. I have learned that friends will understand if you just say no I can’t make it. No excuses just no and that has made things easier.

I also learned ,out of necessity, that I can just leave the house with the baby and a nappy and a muslin. We have hardly used the pram yet at all this time, we just carry her everywhere. She is tiny. This is fine.

The husband looked after me a lot. He came home from work and cleaned and cooked and done everything. I think our maternity leave is ok in Ireland of course it could be better but its ok but we really need paid paternity leave. Someone needs to fix this. The husband didn’t get enough time to sit and just look at the baby like I did.

Just everything this time has been stress free and easy and really just lovely. The only difficult part was naming her ( she had four different names and was six weeks old before a final one was decided upon, I am not proud of this)  Some of this comes from me being older and having more confidence in myself and a lot of it comes from experience. I am a little sad though that it took me four goes to fully get this stage right. I am loath to give parenting advice because I vary from good to average to pretty damn poor at parenting depending on the day but I do wish I could go back and tell the me of 8, 6 and 4 years ago how to enjoy the newborn stage fully because its goes so fast.

HMC1

 

I would tell myself to forget about other people expectations and advice, I would tell myself to lie to strangers when they ask is it your first baby and to say its my fourth. When you tell people its your fourth baby, they don’t give the advice so much, its deadly. I would tell myself to just sit and look at the baby, count her eyelashes, hold her tiny fingers, have more baths with her, say yes if people want to feed you, say no if you don’t want to go somewhere, don’t stress and worry about what;s going to happen after maternity leave because it wont change any circumstance, don’t be the only one to watch out for pnd and know if happens it can be fixed and just be still and be kind to yourself.

In some cultures it is common for the new mother to have a period of time after giving birth to heal and rest and do nothing. Mothers or mothers in-law move in with the new mother to help her with her baby and ensure she gets to rest. Now, I love my mother and mother in law greatly but we would kill each other if we had to live with each other but I love the idea of the new mother having to do as little as possible. I am going to make a much bigger effort in future to offer to help anyone I know who has a baby, I think everyone should do that more. Just drop in food or offer to help with a school run or buy them something just for them. I am very grateful to everyone who done this for me this time and I am so grateful for my beautiful, perfect baby. I am very fortunate. Bring on the next stage, my last newborn experience rocked.

HMC4

 

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Vasectomy – The Trial Run

The new child is our last child. The husband has plans to get a vasectomy. He has been talking about it for a long time. His body, his choice ,yay for body autonomy, so its nothing to do with me, really. I have some worries though. The reason being is because of the trial run. The dog got done first. We didn’t actually get the dog seen to as a trial run, just to clarify, we got it done because apparently its what responsible dog owners should do and he was taking a shine to all sorts of inanimate objects and people nonetheless if we take it as a trial run, the results aren’t encouraging…………

cone of shame

Its been five months now since the dog had his testicles removed. We are starting to see glimpses of him returning to himself. Only recently though.

Firstly was the recovery. The initial doped up ness, the cone of shame, the stitches, the confusion on his face when he went to lick his balls to find his balls were gone. I had some guilt. Then he recovered but his spark seemed to have gone. Before, when we came home he bounded around enthusiastically, delighted to see us, post testicle removal, he lifted his head in acknowledgement of our appearance.

He sleeps a lot now. Most of the day, all of the night. He finds his only joy in food. We used to be able to see his ribs through his lean strong body, he is chubbier now. The tennis ball used to be his best friend, he still enjoys catching it but again with a lot less enthusiasm.

He used to sneak off with the kid’s rag doll and show her a good time. Now he uses her as a cushion for all the sleeping.

He has developed a fear of small dogs. When out for a walk, he will cower and put his head down when he sees a yappy little dog approaching despite being 10 times the size of it.

His life was pretty much joyless for a while. Like I said, I have felt guilt. In the last few weeks though his enthusiasm is returning and not just for food. He seems a bit happier and even jumped up the other day with happiness. Of course as well as getting his balls hacked off, we got a new baby shortly afterwards. He isn’t allowed too close to her. Her siblings had no jealousy at her arrival. The dog has had some.  More guilt.

Anyway he is almost back to himself now. Or his new, powerless to procreate, self. It took five months though.

This got me thinking what if the husband takes fives months to recover. Worse still what if the five months were dog months, you know, like dog years so 5 x7= 35 months, so it was more like almost three dog years of recovery time . That is a long time for everyone involved.

It has made me question if vasectomy  is wise contraception choice after all. Will there be months and months, maybe years of zero enthusiasm? Will I have to share all my food when I want to eat my feelings?  Will sleeping become the only thing he takes happiness from? Will my body become only a cushion? In fairness it makes a good cushion due to my excessive eating. So many questions though.

Of course, the procedure is  not invasive for men, not like the poor dog. There will be no actual removal of bodiy parts nor will there be stitches or cones of shame  so it will probably be grand. The dogs experience wouldn’t sell it to you though. He has been zero craic for the last few months, he is back to himself now though.

P.S. I had a look online for images to accompany this post. I am really sorry I did.

If anyone wants to share their experience of vasectomy- personal, spousal or pet wise, please do. Its good to overshare. 

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Salespeople Calling To Door- A Rant

Assholes. They are everywhere. I expect to  meet them when in traffic or in the supermarket. I know there is always potential for one to try to skip me in the queue in the bank, that’s life. I do, however, expect to be safe from horrible people when at home. Or at least if there is assholeish behaviour at home it was from someone I love so I can tolerate it most of the time. Your home is meant to be the place where you can retreat from all the assholes in the world…………then came the resurgence of door to door salespeople.

I appreciate this is a really difficult job. I also know many people who sell door to door are on a commission based only salary and they might need to knock on 100 doors before making any money in a day. I have had my fair share of shit jobs and I had  a commission based only role before, it was hard. Still, having a difficult job shouldn’t give you permission to be a complete asshole.

Some days I used to listen to pitches and even considered buying something at the door on occasion, then the Sky salesman ruined it by asking to “talk to my husband” when I told him I didn’t want to switch to Sky Tv.  However I have always tried to be mindful of how hard their jobs must be so I try to be pleasant and I try not to waste their time when they call and just politely say no thank you I don’t buy makeup, art, switch electricity providers or give my bank details to set up a direct debit to charity at the door etc. Ideally I would just hide when they call but anytime I have attempted that a child usually shouts out “Mammy why are you hiding behind the door, there is a man outside, I think he wants to talk to you” so I have to open the door and its more embarrassing after being caught trying to hide.

Via vintechnology.com

Via vintechnology.com

 

So last Friday. 4.45pm. It had been a long week. I was sitting feeding the baby. Kids were running riot. A salesman knocks on the door. He can possibly see me from the door through the window. I got up, I put my boobs away , I pulled my cardigan closed and I opened the door. I am not looking my best but that is my business and I am in the comfort of my own home.

Before I get to smile and say no thank you. He is straight in with “Can you get the decision maker of the house for me please” whilst looking me up and down.

Now I don’t know if this translates to get me the man of the house or if you can’t brush your hair you clearly can’t make household decisions.

Sales training 101 he has me engaged because I have to answer him.

So off he goes. ” We were called to your neighbourhood today.……”

I,sadly,never got the chance to ask him who had summoned him to the area today, was it a government agency, the guards, a concerned neighbour, had he been watching too many  American crime series or  was it a big fat fucking lie because on and on he went.

I notice you have an alarm, your windows and door look  secure but……..” I was starting to get uncomfortable now with his house assessment and he was up on the doorstep and right in my face.

I could hear the baby screaming inside, he could too. This obviously was not a good time for me to talk, this didn’t stop him. I eventually got a word in.  I told him I was happy with my house alarm and wouldn’t be buying anything. He lost his head, was really rude and stormed off kind of like the way a toddler does when he doesn’t get his own way. I asked him what company he worked for, he mumbled the answer without turning around and then told me ,sarcastically, to have a nice day. I didn’t quite get whatever name he called me as he stomped off. ASSHOLE. I then phoned up the company to complain but the person at the end of the phone quite rude too. Customer relations don’t seem to be their strong point. Anyway I had a little rant and probably should have gotten over it but here I am five days later……….

I am sitting in my own home  and its ok for someone to come try to sell me something I don’t want and when I tell them no thanks, he can be really rude and aggressive. Then whatever about me who can answer back and say no comfortably,  what about the number of older and more vulnerable people who live near me? It’s ok for this dope to rock up on their door step and scare monger them. He was reaming off information about breaks in  to me before I stopped him, I can assume, he done the same to other people and maybe he got direct debit information from them. Now maybe the product is fine but scare mongering people into buying something on their own doorsteps just seems wrong.

Like I said, I did try to complain but didn’t get very far and a little part of me didn’t push it because the salesperson seemed really annoyed by me and I then had the thought that he would could back and break into my house to prove a point that my home security isn’t that good after all. Ok I am probably leaping to an extremely unlikely possibility but this guy unnerved me as well as enraged me.  It just doesn’t seem fair. I don’t even have refuge at home anymore from assholes. Harsh.

 

asshole

 

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The Homework Survival Guide

 

My brand new junior infant got her first homework this week. We sat together happily at the table tracing the letter S and making s sounds. I lovingly pointed out words beginning with S that we came across over the rest of the day. Taking memory snapshots of how lovely it all was and   enjoying the important role I was playing in her education. I even considered asking the husband to photograph us so we can have evidence of a time when we both enjoyed homework. It’s going to change very very soon. I am still relatively new to the homework lark. I know its only going to get worse as my children get older. Here is what I have learned after four years of it………..

homework

Your Own Academic  and Professional Achievements Mean Nothing Now

It doesn’t matter if you have a PHD in molecular physics, can speak four languages fluently or successfully manage a team of 345 people in work. You are wrong and your child’s teacher is always right. In your child’s eyes their teacher is the fountain of all knowledge and if you don’t explain a maths question or pronounce a word the same way they do, you are stupid. They lose faith in you immediately. They might even sneer. Take deep breaths, don’t be offended. Don’t burst into tears and tell them how many points you got in your Leaving Cert or about your thesis. They don’t care. It’s too late. Smile and nod. Apologise for making a mistake if you have to. Take the simple route.

Be Prepared

This year I have spare pencils and stationary for homework purposes. I mentioned before how my children had to take turns to do homework at the end of the last school year because we had one pencil between them. I wouldn’t recommend it. You want to stave off the meltdowns at least until you are halfway through the homework not at the start. I suggest you keep a discretionary budget of 10k per academic year for the amount of pencils, erasers, parers and rulers you will need to replace on a weekly basis.

You Will Worry About Your Child’s Ability

This starts early. You are practising letters. It is all going well. Your child recognises them. Then you have to blend them to form a word. You child is tired or toying with you. So you are there like somebody pissed slurring out the word said. “ssssssahhhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiidddddddddddddd.. Said. You child who has correctly identified all four letters moments earlier will point to the word and decide it spells chair. You start all over again. Your child will see the desperation in your eyes. At this point they might feel sorry for you and will concentrate  or they might toy with you and continue shouting out random words and sit back and enjoy your tears of frustration.

 

Phone A Friend.

It is absolutely imperative you have the number of at least one other parent in the class for homework purposes. Last year my son had a homework copy for the first time. His homework was never dated though and was written down on random pages which gave no clue to what homework he was actually meant to be doing. My son also had a habit of telling me he had no homework and then remembering that he actually did at 8am the next morning. My poor neighbour ( and friend) not only has to deal with her childs homework she has to deal with regular texts from me verifying the homework.

In the case of my daughter, well over the years, texts about homework have substantially increased my phone bills. Some for the reasons above and some along the lines of “is their teacher on crack?”  A particular highlight was the night she had to make sentences out of the words hoe, hoar, blow and slow. ( hoar is an adjective to describe the colour greyish white by the way)

Having numbers of other parents in the class is essential for homework survival.

download

Google Is Also Your Friend

 I got through school and college without the internet. Although we did have dial-up internet towards the end of my college years I think. I don’t know how we managed with just encyclopedias though. My eldest child is 8. I should be able to manage supervising her homework without resorting to google yet I have had to more times than I care to recall. The website More Words is one of my most visited sites with google translate being a close second. I was never good at Irish.

Always Read The Question

For you own sake and to prevent embarrassment. One evening last year my daughter was doing her maths homework. She didn’t understand it. I glanced at it and decided it called for fractions. She told me repeatedly she didn’t know what fractions were. I was tired. I just called out what I believed the answers were. The homework came home the next day circled in red with a note about how they hadn’t covered fractions yet and the answers didn’t call for fractions and even with that the answers were still wrong. The red marks were for me. The teacher had basically corrected my work. She knew it .I knew it. It was no good. I apologised profusely to my daughter.

Projects

This is where parents come into their own. Children at 5, 6,7 don’t know how to use google so parental involvement in projects is essential. It is too bloody easy to get sucked in. I could go on Mastermind with my specialist topics being Siberian Husky Dogs and the country of Mexico due to my daughter’s projects. We researched the topics together. We have spent ridiculous amounts of time on these projects. The key is not to get too involved. If your child doesn’t want to prepare a video style project go with it, don’t push them and don’t say to her I knew “we” should have gone down the multimedia route when she tells you about the other child in the class who prepared a video instead of pages stapled together. Do not get competitive about the projects. I often wonder what teachers think when they have to sift through 25+ projects clearly put together by parents not kids…….

My phone a friend came in handy for support a couple of months ago. I was able to text her when I was gluing mexican flags at 11.30pm knowing she was doing the same with Greek ones late at night made me feel a lot better about myself.

Character Building

Nothing tests your parenting skills like homework. I have had some pretty serious lows. There have been nights where there were tears and arguments. You need to find reserves of patience you didn’t even know existed and some days you fail and you feel like shit and it’s just awful.

Take solace new parents of school going kids though it’s mostly hard for every parent and you are not alone in the horror of homework and you can look forward to the occasional times when your child will say the magical words after school “My table won a homework pass” or “my teacher wasn’t in today so we have no homework” .  These will be great days. The momentary utter joy those words will deliver is sweeter than any academic or professional achievement you have ever mastered……….

 

Any and all tips to add to the above are very welcome 

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Starting As I Mean To Go On

The children went back to school yesterday. The four year old started. All went ok, she took it in her stride. I took the same picture of each of my three eldest on their first day of school, I put the three photographs together last night.

picisto-20140901151928-223377

Nice isn’t it? I am going to call it, thank fuck I have a baby.

They are just growing up too quick. I know that’s what they are meant to do and I am really proud of them but god days like yesterday make you just want to freeze time a bit.

It’s really quiet in the house right now and I miss them. I am a sap. It will pass and by the end of the week we will have readjusted back to the school routine.

Every September I have these high hopes of starting a new more organised regime and envisage myself as a pinterest parent. It lasts for a week or two, it didn’t even last a day this year.

Sunday night at 9pm found me sitting on my bedroom floor trying to remember which handbag I was using this time last year as I knew I left the labels in an envelope in it. After emptying out several, I found them. Organised chaos is I how I roll. At that stage I was too tired to iron on labels so 7am yesterday morning saw me writing initials onto jumpers and ties with a permanent marker instead. Illegible as it turned out and I ended up with more marker on my fingers than the uniforms.  “If you lose your tie remember it has a big black smudge on the back of it not your name, ok?” I explained to the kids.

People have been regularly asking me am I exhausted with a small baby and three older children. I haven’t been at all. I thought it was because my body had finally readjusted to sleep deprivation after years of preparation but no that’s not the case. I was fucking delusional. Of course I haven’t been worn out as for the last two months, none of us have gotten dressed before 11am any morning. We have spent the summer lounging around doing very little with absolutely no routine what so ever. By 3pm yesterday I couldn’t talk with exhaustion. I communicated by nodding my head slowly. Walking up the stairs took supreme effort. How bloody naive was I thinking I was some sort of wonder person who survived on minimum sleep and was able to maintain a sunny deposition? It’s very easy to be cheery and non weary when you are wearing clothing with elasticated waist bands and not making lunches and washing uniforms all the live long day.

 

So back to starting the school year as I mean to go on. There is no disillusionment  this year. Right now I know there are parents out there who are making heart-shaped pancakes with smiley faces for their children before school and making fucking bento boxes for school lunches. That is fine. Good luck to them. I am fine with that. This year I am not even going to try to compete. My children are just fine with their cereal for breakfast and ham sandwiches and fruit all thrown in together in their lunch boxes. We have started as we mean to go on.  My head nearly exploded yesterday afternoon when I saw the boy going into the playroom with his pencil-case. I was kind of hoping he would hang on to its contents till at least mid-term. To achieve this the pencil-case must stay in his bag not the abyss that is the playroom. It’s not looking good that the pencil-case will survive the month…..

I like to think that what my children miss out in bento boxes and cook book worthy breakfasts they gain in other things. I am just not sure yet what those other things are yet though. I did have the time to jump up and down half-naked on the doorstep this morning to try to get my kids to laugh for a photograph the husband was trying to take of the three of them heading off together for the first time. I don’t think that is a positive though. I can see them lying on a psychiatrists couch in twenty years time “She didn’t even cut the crusts of our sandwiches” they will wail.  Fingers crossed the kids they are sitting beside in school have average low effort lunches too and not this type:

Via bentonbettelunches.com

Via bentonbetterlunches.com

The husband is off work yesterday and today. The two of us have been able to feed and dress and drop the kids, together. Tomorrow morning I have to get out the door alone with four of them and I am flying through my maternity leave at the speed of light. I have no clue how I am meant to get myself ready for work and get four children up fed and dressed in the morning. I am considering, when the time comes, that we will get ready the night before and all go to sleep fully dressed to speed things up in the morning. I am sitting here now in the quiet house. With my baby. And the mess. Worn out. Its day two.  Bring It On.

 

 

 

The voting is still going on for Best Blog Post in the Blog Awards. You can re-vote weekly. If you have 30 seconds can you click At The Clothesline and vote  pretty please? I have no shame left. Its gone. Well gone.

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There She Goes…………

September 1st is racing towards us. My third child starts school next week. This is the third time I have done this in four years, you would think it gets easier;it doesn’t.

It’s a big deal them starting school. In my eyes, it’s the start of their life without you, the start of them getting their wings. She has been going to this school daily since she was a tiny baby in the buggy collecting and dropping her big sister and brother. She know’s in some ways what lies ahead for her, so do I.

She will make friends and she will learn to write and read and learn that she can’t always have attention when she wants it. Some days will be hard but they will be few and it will be mostly good and she will be happy. She is a complex character the four-year old , she directs and bosses her older siblings around but defers to children her own age most of the time. She roars requests at me and her Dad but can be painfully shy around others. She has a grim determination too. If she doesn’t want to do something, it doesn’t happen. We have been saying yes to her since day one in pursuit of an easy life. When she was born the other two were one and three, we done anything needed for an easy life. She is a good child though despite our sometimes lax parenting of her.

She is fiery and funny and clever and school will be great. I am trying not to think about the days where she can’t find someone to play with in yard or the times someone might be mean to her and she will have to swallow back a sob and put on a brave face cause she is “actually a really big girl now” as she keeps telling me.  The great will far outweigh the rare difficult parts though .  I am going to miss her. I hope she loves it. Well first I hope she decides to go in next Monday, then I hope she loves it.

photo (66)

 

 

 

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Tummy Time Charlie Sheen Style

The new one is 3 months old. She had  a judge my parenting, developmental check last week. Lots of questions about tummy time which of course I lied about “Jesus she is never off her tummy, she is a developmental prodigy”  and the like. For the uninitiated, apparently babies need tummy time to learn how to push themselves up and eventually crawl. Now the baby does get tummy time , she is on my chest, on my lap etc but the rules insist that babies be placed on the floor for tummy time. The nurse very helpfully suggested to the four-year old she could help with tummy time. I adore when people tell one of my children what to do with my small infant. Love it.

I suspect this baby was drugged to look so happy during tummy time

I suspect this baby was drugged to look so happy during tummy time

Anyway, obviously not wanting the new one to fail in life, I have made more of a conscious effort to put her on her tummy this week. Turns out, just like my other three ( and I assume all babies ever) she hates it. I am going to guess she gets this from me. If I was incapacitated and forced to lie on my stomach with no way of moving, while people much bigger than me shouted at me or waved noisy toys at me,  I would hate it too.

We started off with the nurses helpful suggestion that the other children could help. Baby placed on changing mat on floor. One sibling to her left, one sibling to her right, one facing her head on. They screamed her name continuously for two minutes while she made a valiant effort to move her head before finally making eye contact with me. She didn’t need to roar, the look said it all “PICK ME FUCKING UP NOW”. So I did.

CHARLIE

I tried it again the next day without the assistance of her siblings. This time she did roar, she roared and gave me the look of PICK ME FUCKING UP NOW. So I did.

We tried a few more times with similar results. Last night I put her down again. She promptly spat up, face planted the puke and then snorted it. Charlie Sheen style tummy time. I picked her up. I cleaned her up. I comforted her. She calmed down eventually but that look of horror was still in her eyes as she was getting over it. If she could talk I know she would have been mumbling between the gulps of hysteria “You don’t know what is was like man, You weren’t there” . 

I am going to wait a while before we try it again.

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