Mother’s Day in the UK was a while ago, but I saw this video on Facebook from the Today show and it made me cry.
Mother’s Day message – Today
Everything has changed for us with the arrival of baby B, after many years of infertility, medical intervention and loss. This time last year I had just got my positive pregnancy test for B and I was so scared it was going to go the same way as our previous year’s pregnancy, little PB who was lost to miscarriage.
For Mother’s Day here in the UK I posted this message on Facebook, with a picture of my mum with me and one of her with baby B.
“It’s my 39th Mother’s Day as a daughter and my first as a mother. Heading to see my mum, who first met me when I was a few days old and has loved me ever since. She’s now [Grandma] to B but she’ll always be [Mum] to me.
Both of us had a long and difficult journey to be a mother. Thinking of all the mothers out there today, especially the mothers without children and children without mothers. I promise not to take it for granted. ❤”
I hope for anyone who finds this day difficult that you know that we see you. And I hope that next year you’ll be celebrating Mother’s Day with happiness.
Before I embarked on this journey, I worked in an office. I’m a not-very-bigwig in the corporate world. And for years I defined myself by it, so I find myself applying “work” lingo to this new and amazing world of parenthood…
Hence: the QBR. At work, the Quarterly Business Review is a chance to look back on the last three months and assess what was good about it and what you’re going to work on next quarter.
I don’t seem to have any time for blogging nowadays. I never wanted to be one of those infertility bloggers who drops off the face of the planet when they have a baby, but there you have it. I’m still here, but right now I’m soaking up all I can of the experience.
I have to go back to work early for the UK – usually people take a year, but I’m on unpaid leave (due to starting my new job pregnant so ineligible for paid leave) and this (just over four months) is all we can afford. Hence my sparse postings lately. I’m sure when I’m back at work and have a commute again, I’ll be able to write a bit more.
Anyway, here goes!
Performance: B’s development
Following the developments a baby makes is like trying to catch a wave upon the sand, as the nuns in The Sound of Music would have it. B changes every single day. It’s amazing to watch.
It’s totally out-of-this-world amazing and totally run-of-the-mill normal at the same time. I absolutely know I’m not the first and last person to have a baby, but I can also now see why mothers get a bit obsessed.
Things B can do (not an exhaustive list, because I am not on top of things like that):
- Smile. He smiles all the time now. It’s like a magic mood lifter. How can you be anything but happy when a little fat baby is grinning a toothless grin at you?
- Halfhearted roll. He started rolling out of bed – his side sleeper cot, onto our bed. I bought a Sleepyhead bed nest which now contains him. He can roll halfway from his back to his side, but doesn’t seem motivated to roll fully (and we aren’t motivated to encourage him!).
- Hold his head up. We do tummy time when we remember (#badparents) and he easily holds his head up and tries to crawl a bit, but is a long way off, thankfully!
- Dribble. My boy is a world champion dribbler. Apparently this means maybe he’s started teething. He doesn’t seem particularly upset.
- Babble. In the last week or so, he’s just started to enjoy the sound of his own voice. T is convinced he can say “Hello” and it does sound like that sometimes, but I think it’s unlikely!
- Enjoy playing. For a while, I wondered if he was really enjoying playing, but now he definitely does. We do Baby Sensory once a week and he can now engage a bit in activities. He laughs when he enjoys things. And he has started batting toys at his (incredibly tacky) Baby Gym, finally, rather than just lying there and expecting them magically to entertain him!
In short, he is the most awesome beautiful baby in the world and I am fully in love.
Review: Parenthood after infertility/loss
During this whole thing, I’ve always been conscious of being infertile and of needing so much intervention to have B. On the one hand, I’ve passed into motherhood / parenthood and in many ways it feels like something I always was supposed to do. By which I mean, it feels natural. But on the other hand, I’m really conscious that pregnancy and birth did not come naturally to me. And I don’t want people to think it came easily or that I’m not grateful.
I thank my lucky stars every single day that I have B. It feels like a journey I never thought I’d get to make. It’s awesome. I also in the same breath thank my lucky stars for T, his father and my partner. And Dog, the best dog ever. It is nice to have a little family of my own. Of course I’ve always been a part of my family that I can remember, but it’s weird to have started my own. And even weirder to have someone who looks like me. People comment that all the time. I can totally enjoy that because having been adopted, I never had that.
I feel a need to explain to people that it wasn’t easy to have B, because I feel like on the one hand it’s hard to imagine him not being there, but on the other it’s weird not to reflect on the many more years I had of being childless with no idea if I’d ever not be. And I want people who are trying to conceive to know that we went there too.
Does the pain ever go away? I know some people say it doesn’t, and I respect that. For me, it’s immensely healing to have B. That’s not on him. He’s not responsible for my happiness. I just feel that the pain of infertility and loss has become more distant in my everyday thoughts. It’s not “worth it” as such but it doesn’t really intrude because I’m too busy enjoying him. It’s amazing how babies change and grow and learn stuff every single day. I’m in awe. And I’m so happy to get the chance to experience this. It feels like a dream come true.
I guess one thing this journey gave me was an intolerance of people who complain a lot about having a baby. I just can’t. I know so many who would give their right arm to be pregnant so it annoys me when people whinge on about pregnancy and motherhood. I know they have a right to, but I just don’t like to hear it. During pregnancy I almost relished the back pain and discomfort because I knew it meant he was coming. And now, I have almost infinite patience when he wakes me up during the night or cries, because he’s here and healthy and he needs me and I wanted this. Of course I get tired, but I look at his little face and think, You are so wanted and loved.
Review: Motherhood after adoption
Although I feel like I started this blog to talk about infertility, it became clear that I had many thoughts on adoption, and having been adopted as a baby. I probably have a whole post on this, but for the purposes of this QBR I can say it’s been on my mind a lot.
It’s literally amazing to me to see B’s face every day and how much he looks like me. I never realised how much I missed having kin before I met him. I have my (adoptive) family and I think we are a pretty close family. And they’ve embraced B as one of their own, because he is. But for me it’s just mind blowing to meet my actual flesh and blood. Finally.
If you’ve followed my blog a while you’ll know T is also adopted. So B has two parents who don’t have bio family in their lives. He is it. It’s kind of huge but it’s kind of normal as well. It’s a nice kind of normal. I like that he won’t grow up wondering who he looks like or feeling weird for being a different race from everyone else.
We purposely moved here to a diverse community so he won’t stick out. It’s awesome to see how there are lots of interracial couples here, and lots of mixed race children. I feel a sense of parental responsibility that I can do that – make a conscious choice for him. I was speaking with my cousin who is in an interracial relationship with mixed race children, who felt the same about making sure they fitted in. Racial mirrors are important.
Crunchy mom score: 10
I seem to have turned into a hippy. My friend the Earth Mother (who sometimes reads this blog *waves*) is my role model here!
Breastfeeding is this huge thing I never thought I’d get into, but a quarter in (almost a third now I’ve finally gotten round to finishing this) and it seems to be my superpower. I know this is no credit to me and some people just seem to find it easier. It’s nuts. I’m so glad it has gone well. I had the difficulty getting and staying pregnant, the messed up birth, so I deserve something, right?! Actually was totally happy just to have a healthy baby, but I’ll take it.
Babywearing is another one. It’s European Babywearing Week this week, and I’m going strong! I’m still wearing B in the wrap but have gone a bit full on down the rabbit hole of babywearing madness. Again something for a longer post but suffice to say I’m a convert to wrapping and I have another two in the post! I’m not really sure why I bothered with the pram as B loves babywearing and I do too, so he screams blue murder if he has to go into his lovely designer pram, but he’s happy to be wrapped like a little burrito and strapped to my front, and I feel like a warrior when I do it!
I want to do both of these things as long as possible and as long as B still enjoys it. I’m hoping I can breastfeed for at least a year, although I’ll have to express when I’m back at work. B is so not into taking expressed milk – we’ve tried once a day to see if he can get used to it, but he has a definite preference for milk from source. In a way it makes me happy he loves me best (as a good source anyway!) but I’m concerned he will feel thirsty or hungry when I’m out at work. Hopefully he will adjust.
Exit strategy: Going back to work
It’s not so much an exit strategy as enforced retirement (in QBR parlance). I so don’t want to go back to work. I know I’m going to cry my eyes out. I can finally appreciate why maternity leave is usually a year. I honestly had no idea babies were this interesting (well, I mainly like mine… the others not so much!) and how much of a wrench it would be. I’m already less than a month to go and it feels like sand slipping through an hourglass at high speed.
I’m with him all the time and I don’t want to miss anything but I’ll have to. I’ll pump for him, and I know I’ll do everything possible to make sure he has the best start, but really I wish I could be with him every day, all day. I guess it’s no easier going back when they’re one, though. I hope he’ll take after me and sleep a lot!
Clothes have been a challenge. Who knew maternity and nursing wear seem to be double purpose? It’s so odd that the clothing manufacturers have decided the two go together. My mum kindly gave me some money to buy some back to work clothes and get a haircut. I think she realised how awkward I feel carrying the extra weight and with massive nursing boobs!
Pre pregnancy I was around a size 10 UK and now I’m maybe a 12, bigger than I’ve ever been (well, apart from pregnancy!). During pregnancy I embraced bodycon because it meant I was actually pregnant. Post pregnancy I’m avoiding it for the reason that it makes me look pregnant! My boobs are out of control. Pre pregnancy I was 32C and post I am 36DD or by Boob or Bust (a nursing site) measurements I’m 32H! Which is crazy talk! I’ll have a few weeks to find some decent nursing / pumping clothes. I don’t want to sit pumping in a meeting room with my top off, or worse still with a dress off, in my underwear! There’s a great fb group called Can I Breastfeed In It? Which I’ve been stalking for inspiration. Sadly most nursing stuff is casual or occasion wear rather than office wear. I’m half thinking I need to make a group for prematurely working mums!
In order to try and get organised, I ordered a Sarah Wells designer nursing bag from the US. Breast pump bags literally do not exist here in the UK. Probably because mothers don’t go back to work until the babies are weaned. Most take a year off. Unfortunately it isn’t possible for us as I’m on unpaid leave so minimum amount of wages (a small statutory allowance from the government which I’m grateful for, but barely pays rent!). Anyway I was super excited to receive it until I got hit with a customs charge of £39! Wtf. You live and learn. That bag better be amazing! I’ll have to post a more in depth review later.
I’ve always felt it’s so important not to neglect your relationship when you have a baby. And yet I’ve realised in the past few weeks that I really haven’t focused on T so much as B. I’ve also probably neglected Dog a bit as T tends to take him for walks whilst I feed B. I think we are okay. T says he doesn’t mind (especially the lack of bedroom antics!) but I am conscious of it.
We are very loving and in many ways having B has solidified that. I mean, we are inextricably linked now. But we are more tired and we sometimes get quite far through the day before we kiss, which is something I always thought of as important. That said, we are around each other all day – T is on shared parental leave – so we don’t kiss each other goodbye.
Having a baby and the resultant disturbed sleep (he goes back to sleep easily but I still have to wake up and comfort him even if he’s co sleeping) and probably hormones does make me grouchy. So I need to watch out for that. I feel like my moods are way more loving-whoops-now-I’m-crazy! than they were before. T is very good natured but I’m probably stretching it a bit! I absolutely love being an Earth mother type but I need to develop some hippy vibes!
We got back to the – ahem – babymaking (well it never worked!) right on schedule. Actually a day early after the doc said it was possible after a c section (6 weeks). So we made sure everything was still in working order! But frequency is way down. T says he doesn’t mind, but I feel bad for him considering last few months of pregnancy was also a no go!
I feel really self conscious of my post baby body – for the first time in years I feel a bit ashamed of my body. Before I was a bit more vain and perfectionist – not to say I had the best body but I felt it was within tolerances and was kind of proud I wasn’t overweight. Now I feel a bit saggy and my stretch marks are still very visible so that’s affected my confidence. It just about passes in clothes but my bikini days are over! So that affects how I feel about getting naked. I am hoping over time it’ll improve. At the weekend we stayed in a posh hotel for a family do so we had a bath – for the first time I didn’t want him to see me naked. But he did and we had a nice bath! I guess it takes time. I still feel massively proud of my body for getting B here, and I know T still loves me, I just have to start feeling attractive again.
All this makes it sound like our relationship is suffering. I don’t think it is particularly- but I do think having a baby changes it. We are still great friends and we still love each other, but it’s not just the two of us (plus Dog) any more. We are parents. It’s weird to recast ourselves. I suppose it takes time to grow into our new roles. I don’t think I had to love him more. I already did. He’s the love of my life. Having a baby is something a part of us and also outside of us. A seismic event. And we are still evolving.
Next quarter’s focus
- Back to work
- Bottle feeding (expressed milk)
- New house! (Hopefully still happening… slowly!)
- Relationship stuff (not forgetting to be us)
- Austerity MkII (because of new house!)
- Teething (suspected!)
Appendices: In pictures
If we are friends on fb, you’ll have seen the pics of B. I’m obsessed by how cute he is! Meanwhile here’s a taste of what we’ve been up to lately.
As before, comment and let me know what you’ve been up to! I haven’t had much time to read other people’s blogs but if you comment then I’ll read! Hope you are all well. X
Just thought I’d share. Sorry I’ve been a bit lax at blogging lately – the little one has rather taken up my time and so I haven’t had the chance to catch up on everyone’s blog posts. I hope you are all well!
I’m great, apart from the fact that my eyeball is currently overhanging its socket. I kid you not. Turns out my hayfever has gotten to peak levels this year, and as I’m breastfeeding I have been trying not to take daily medication (as it’s safe but can apparently impact milk supply and/or cross into the milk). So I’ve been rather suffering although it is early in the season but seems to be affecting everyone badly this year in the UK.
So: current position is that I’m feeding baby B whilst in a darkened room (it’s almost 1am and we tend to go to bed late – plus side is B doesn’t wake up early!) and feeling the uncomfortable sensation of my eyeball being swollen and overhanging my eye socket. Ugh. I’ve taken some cetirizine in desperation and I’m going to get some eye drops tomorrow. My doctor gave me a steroid nasal spray which apparently is fine for breastfeeding and I have a bunch of saline sprays too, so that covers the nose itching and sneezing, but gosh the itchy eyes and the overhanging eyeball are unpleasant!
Other than that we are great. I’ve not had much time for blogging lately but I guess that will change when I get back to work and have a commute during which I can type! I feel like right now I want to take advantage of being close to B.
I have a lot of feelings about going back to work, but that’s probably another post. Meanwhile I’ll leave you with an attractive vision of my red swollen eyeball, and a few pictures from our days out and about. Please tell me your news in the comments and I’ll have a read of your blogs!
I thought this was a really interesting account of post partum depression.
I don’t know if you know what I’ve been up to. I don’t know if I said it enough. My mouth that can fit my entire fist in it ( party trick life goals right there eh ?) has been working overtime telling anyone who dares to be my friend , sell me my copy of the National Enquirer, comes to my desk to stare at my acrylic nails colours of the week or who reads my political rants about what I’ve been up to for the last 18 months. Aside from attempting to lose 87 stone whilst eating considerably more than a gust of wind and a glass of air, weeping at the Brexit result , stamping my little heeled feet in horror that a orange pancaked make up face man with a multi colored hair piece , wandering knob and the inability to run his own Twitter account…
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(Not literally. Can you imagine? A massive friend pile up.)
Yesterday I braved the public transport system into town, as in The City, as in The City of London, as in The Square Mile… Yes, the business/financial district of London. As anyone who’s spent any time working in the City will tell you, navigating Bank station is a complete nightmare at most times (steps! crowds!) and even worse at rush hour, so it was quite a brave move.
A friend from my old job wanted to catch up, so I thought we could meet and I’d tack on another couple of friends as loads of people work around Bank. (It’s the heart of the business district in London. And extremely busy.) I decided I’d travel in after morning rush hour and take the sling, which worked fairly well. I got a seat on the tube and felt fairly pleased with myself, and B duly snoozed away.
I installed myself in a lunch place and people came to me. I always thought parents who did this were smug ****ers, but it turns out they were just being practical. Babies are portable, for sure. But their surrounding paraphernalia, less so. Also it turns out that the City is not set up for babies. Both the places we installed ourselves in yesterday didn’t even have bathrooms! (For the inevitable apoocalypse we went to Pizza Express and asked nicely to use the bathroom.)
First up was my best friend from my current work. She’s actually a client so doesn’t work for the same company, and she’s a PA. I find it weird that people don’t expect managers to be friends with PAs, as people have commented that it’s unusual. We just kind of clicked and she’s the only one I particularly miss from work. We aren’t alike at all – she’s a bit older and kind of broad speaking, speaks her own mind and doesn’t take things too seriously. Well, maybe we are!
We had a good catch up about work and non work over pizza and she held B and played with him. I was conscious how nice she was being – she also bought him a present before he was born – as she told me that many years ago she’d had a stillborn baby. She doesn’t have any kids now and she’s probably past the age to have kids. She said she’s resigned to not having kids. Anyway I felt it was bittersweet to see her with him as she was so nice and seemed happy about it. But I guess it must hurt in a way also.
Then randomly I realised there was a guy in the pizza place who was a friend of mine who I haven’t seen in years. So I went to check it was him and he was! We had a quick catch up (obviously we have seen each other on fb) and it turns out he lives really nearby. We worked out the last time we saw each other was at my wedding party. Yes – the one where I’m not married any more!
The third person was a friend from my previous job. (For those of you who followed my blog from the beginning, that one.) You may recall I went through some pretty bad stuff there. Dealing with operations, IVF and subsequent miscarriage with not an ounce of sympathy or understanding.
Anyway it turns out my friend (who is black) was also bullied and ended up resigning. Not without raising a grievance. (I didn’t bother. I just left.) They just couldn’t really deal with women of colour there. We realised there were at least four women who left in quick succession because of the bullying culture. Not nice to know it’s happened to more than one of us, but sort of reassuring that it wasn’t just me.
She ended up being on paid leave for months due to the stress of being bullied by them… Horrible stuff, but at least she was paid for that. As she put it, “They can pay for me to sit in the garden!” I kind of can’t believe that they still think it’s okay to discriminate against people who aren’t white men, but it’s that sort of company. Pretty prestigious but some rotten aspects. I’m so glad I left – my company now isn’t as prestigious but the people are nicer and I get paid more!
My final friend was a friend from my first job. We must have met when I was really young, and we’ve been friends ever since. She’s recently taken a job in London so took the time to pop out and meet us. It was great to see her as she lives outside of London so I don’t see her very often.
We talked about how it is to be a woman who doesn’t have children. She said she’s made her peace with it, and I was really glad because I knew she’d really wanted kids with her ex. With her new guy they have very active lives and he has his kids and didn’t want any more, so she has resigned herself to not having any.
I’m always amazed at the men who are against having kids and whose partners end up not having them. It just seems such a big thing to give up for someone – but I understand that there are plenty of women who don’t want kids. Which is fair enough. I just don’t like to think of women having to pick between their relationship and kids if they do want kids.
Anyway, it was a big catch up day. And in the usual fashion, I posted a pic on fb of each person who’d come to see B. My fb is fairly locked down and I only post to a subset of my friends so it isn’t that many people who usually see my statuses.
This morning I saw that an ex friend had “liked” the photos. She was someone who was friends with my ex and for all I know, still is. I “lost” her in the split as she sided with him and defriended me. (He blocked me on fb so I have no idea.) As I discussed in a previous post, I haven’t told him about B. The general consensus seemed to be that there was no point. We split a long time ago. He was upset and told me not to post stuff that might upset him (including pictures of my dog that our mutual friends had “liked”). So I’ve tried not to upset him.
So this morning I had a moment of panic. I realised because one of the friends who I’d met with was also friends with her, this ex friend could see the post. She could see that I’d had a baby. I wasn’t sure how to feel about that.
Anyway I went in and changed the settings on the post so only my friends could see it (not friends of tagged). I don’t know how I feel about her knowing. I guess “liking” it meant some sort of approval… but she defriended me in the split so I feel like she kind of lost the right to be looking at pictures of my kid. And it also made me think of privacy and whether I’m happy with friends of my friends seeing pictures with them in, holding my baby. I don’t know. There’s a balance.
It is a strange sort of feeling when friends and ex friends collide…
When we moved into our current place last year, I always said we would never move again. Moving is so horrific (apparently up there with divorce and having a child as the biggest stressors in life – though not sure how having a child is as stressful as divorce!) and I love our home. It’s just that it is really really small (“bijou”!) and is probably the least practical place you’d think of if you had a baby… the eight flights of stairs being one reason! But still. We’d never need to move.
Unless… the flat of our dreams came on the market.
In fact there are four flats technically that would fulfil our “dream flat” status. The reason being that they have outside space. We are in a large development with lots of flats and some town houses (completely unaffordable!) And our group of buildings is in a gated area within that. In that group of buildings there are four which have some outside terraces and we have always looked at them and dreamed about having a little terrace for Dog and B to play on.
Also the layout of our current flat is long and thin, meaning B will have to do most of his running around outside. (There is plenty of outside space in the development. Just not private space.) And the spare room is currently now a dressing room so B is rooming with us. Now that’s fine and we bought our flat knowing that, but obviously it would be the dream for him to have outside space and his own decent sized bedroom.
The flat of our dreams came on the market this morning. Eeeeeeeek. We have booked a viewing for Saturday. It already has one viewing before us on the Saturday – it’s the first day they’re doing viewings.
We could just about afford it, although it is quite a lot more than our current flat.
Part of me thinks WE NEED TO BUY THAT FLAT! And part of me thinks we have had way too much good luck lately. There’s no way we could have more good luck.
It’s probably a pipe dream, but one can dream…
We’ve been rubbing along just fine and we thought that Dog (formerly King of the Castle) was getting used to baby B (Prince of Screaming). Although Dog now gets less attention from me, I always try and give him special cuddle time, and T is probably spending more time with him as he is off on leave, so takes him for longer walks than if we were at work. So we thought we were doing okay in making him feel secure.
However we got home this evening to find that Dog had weed all over B’s cot… mainly in his Cosy Dream (the cheaper version of the Sleepyhead – a sleep nest) plus over his sheets and the assorted muslins that live there.
Into the wash they went! Fortunately I have tonnes of sheets for the cot, plus a waterproof mattress protector. But still I wasn’t impressed! Took Dog to show him and tell him not to go in the cot. It’s my fault really as I didn’t put the side up again. It’s a side sleeper and Dog sleeps on the bed during the day if we’re out. I always shoo him away from the cot though. The temptation must’ve been too great.
I guess they aren’t such friendly siblings after all… Agh.
Today we went for afternoon tea with B. It was arranged at our local nursery where B is signed up to go, which is also a children’s centre so does a lot of kid activities. It was within walking distance and cheap, so we thought we’d give it a go.
We had signed up to go with the grandparents – his paternal ones, as we are going to see mine on Sunday – but unfortunately they weren’t able to go as T’s dad unexpectedly landed in hospital the day before.
Fortunately they didn’t find any signs of anything although he had been taken in with a suspected stroke, and T had driven an almost 4hr round trip to see him the previous night and he’d been reassured he was in good hands. We had already paid in advance for the afternoon tea so thought we wouldn’t waste it.
Well, it was much nicer than I’d expected! Of course there were lots of children there but it wasn’t too hectic given the main event is tomorrow. Think we made a good choice to go on Saturday! They’d decorated the room really nicely with vintage crockery and so on. They had Alice and Wonderland on the projector (one of my favourite Disney films!) and a load of activities for the kids. Sadly B was still too young to take advantage of the chocolate fountain and cupcake decorating! The kids even had mini teapots of orange squash. It was all very cute.
So we had double servings of afternoon tea – luckily we were given boxes to take the excess away at the end, so we could have it for dinner! And two glasses of bubbly each which contributed favourably to the mood. B snoozed away in his buggy until he woke up near the end.
Then a guy came and started singing some classics. B woke up and T had him on his lap. They looked adorable because they were wearing matching tops! T has this jumper he wears all the time with stripes on, and we found a babygro that is in the same colours so they can be cute matchy matchy. (I am so cheesy and I make no apologies… I’m trying to find matching mum and baby outfits that we can wear, haha!)
The singer started singing “You’re just too good to be true” and I was waving B’s arms around pretending to dance with him.
And then he smiled – he’s been doing it on and off for the last week or so. We weren’t sure if it was random or not, wind or something, but it’s been getting more regular.
Then, after smiling a bit, he started laughing! His first laugh, looking at me dancing with him.
It was the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen.
I started crying a bit… and T started to feel emotional because I had tears in my eyes, and B was just there giggling whilst I was pretending to dance with him and sing “You’re just too good to be true”, and really that’s the best Mother’s Day gift ever.
Beauty and the Beast live action is finally out in the UK and we went to see it. Hurray! It is my favourite Disney film and I’ve seen the cartoon like a million times.
We went to baby cinema which is called The Big Scream. Once a week they show a baby friendly film and you can take your baby along and not worry if he/she cries. Now, we have unlimited cards for the local cinema and I’ve taken B twice to the local showings but T was keen to try it and I thought, Why not?
OMG. So in a way it’s good because you really don’t worry about your baby screaming. They all do. Usually quiet B did too! The last two films we went to see in our normal cinema, he slept through. (Lion and Hidden Figures.) This one he decided to get a bit annoyed and cry, even though he had boobs available and was being fed! Poor B – not sure he enjoyed Beauty and the Beast that much!
Would I go back? Personally I’m not in a rush. T says he would when he’s on his own with B. I’d rather just sit in a nice dark mostly empty cinema in a normal morning screening that hardly anyone goes to. (I also prefer complete darkness but they had the lights partially on for the babies.) I find other parents kind of annoying too! I was on the end of a row at the back and people kept standing next to me with screaming babies! I figure it’s easier to cope with one baby and take him out if he starts crying.
It’s not all bad though. You definitely do relax. And it’s good because you really don’t worry about anything – if your baby cries, it doesn’t matter. You can get up and rock them. You can feed them. You can do whatever. So it’s easy that way.
My long awaited viewing of Beauty and the Beast was… entertaining, but as expected, not a patch on the original. I thought that Emma Watson was well cast – I usually don’t like her particularly but she was suited to the role of Belle… She is very pretty and has the kind of innocent look about her. And for a peasant she sure does have a nice line in dresses.
It’s an all star cast. I thought it particularly amusing how Cogsworth (the clock) even looked like Sir Ian McKellen! The weirdest thing was The Beast. He’s the guy out of Legion, a series we are watching… It is really good but very odd and couldn’t be more different than Beauty and the Beast! I really couldn’t change my view of him as a mental patient, so that was a bit funny!
The biggest thing I missed was – minor spoiler alert for immense fans – skip to next paragraph – the song Beauty and the Beast (Tale As Old As Time). They did it, but for me (superfan) the best part is that song (as well as Be Our Guest and Something There) and it just didn’t have the same emotional resonance, especially where the camera pans up through the chandelier at “as the sun will rise”, which is the bit where I usually gasp and feel emotional.
In general, I think the entire film had too many fillers in the form of back stories and justifications, when really it’s based on a cartoon that works perfectly well without them. And that cartoon was a very good cartoon which was almost perfect so didn’t really need improving on. Also I may have been distracted by babies screaming!
After that excitement, we had to go for my favourite meal of the day… breakfast! I can eat breakfast at any time of day! I actually think maternity leave should be renamed breakfast leave…
This year, our rainbow baby is here.
Here in the UK, it’s Mother’s Day at the weekend. It will be my first Mother’s Day as a mother.
I still equate Mother’s Day with my mum, the only mother I’ve ever known (since I was adopted at a few days old). Every other year I’ve just been me – a person with no biological relatives. This year, I have my first biological relative in B. I have a child! I’m a mother. It still feels surreal.
I’m sort of amazed by motherhood, in that I never really saw myself as the maternal type. I knew I wanted a kid, but I expected this first part to be the tiresome and boring part – before the baby turns into a toddler who can express himself. But here’s the thing – B can express himself just fine! And there must be some sort of hormones, or biology, that makes you love your own child.
I’ve spent years primarily being defined by my work. After over a decade of infertility I never defined myself by the typical female traits. Instead I was always about achieving stuff in a mainly male world. I was the female of colour in a white guy’s world and I ploughed my own furrow.
And now I’m “one of the mums”. And to my surprise, I don’t hate it. I relish it. I find it all the more precious because I know I have less time than the others. Most women in the UK take a year off when they have a baby. More than a year because they accrue holiday when they’re on maternity leave. I could take a year – I’m entitled to it – but because I started my job pregnant, I am unpaid by my company for all the time I’m off. And I can’t really afford more than the four months I guesstimated we could do without my salary.
Mum life is fun. And it’s even easier because T is off at the same time as me. Although we realised that a lot of stuff is geared just towards mums and babies and not dads. On the one hand I think that’s unfair, but on the other – I’m only just seeing how there’s a biological imperative and it makes sense for the mother to be the primary caregiver.
I knew it intellectually but I never really knew it. B knows I am his mother. He looks for me, and he’s comforted pretty much only by me. He likes T, but after a while he will look for me. And I’m the only one who can feed him. That’s such a big thing I hadn’t really fully understood. I see with B that instinctively he searches for me and wants to be with me.
It’s weird to think that I was once his age and that even before I was the age he is now (just two months old!) I was taken from my first mother and given to a new one. Because I see now how B knows me, knows my smell, is comforted by me. Quite aside from looking like me. He knows me from being inside me for nine months. It’s a real big thing to think that happened to me at such a young age, a fraction of the age B is now. I wonder what that must have felt like to me as a baby.
The funny thing is, I have almost a deeper relationship with my parents now because of B. They want to see him every week. We bond over our shared love of him. They don’t love him any less than their biological grandchildren – they are super proud grandparents of all of them. And I feel like we’ve had deeper, more critical conversations lately, especially about adoption. The fact they’re able to do that and to listen to my musings without getting defensive has been really a bonding experience for us.
Having my own biological child has thrown up all these thoughts and feelings. I’ve had time to think and I’ve had time to bed into the idea of having a biological relative. It’s still so new and yet he feels like he’s always been here. It’s so huge in one way and so little, quotidian in another. In one way I feel like I’m still just me and in the other, I feel like everything has changed.
I’m still active on adoption groups and lately a lot of adoptees I know have found their birth parents and families. It makes me wonder about looking for mine. I’ve thought about it a lot. But also I’ve seen how it doesn’t seem to make them happy. It seems to make them sad a lot of the time and yet they feel compelled to search.
For me, I don’t feel compelled to search. I wonder if I should feel it and there’s something wrong with me that I don’t. I wonder if I found my birth family whether I’d recognise myself in them. I’ve seen pictures of adoptees and the family resemblance and I wonder about that. Maybe B is enough for me. I feel like my birth mother would be like me – accepting of life, not really looking back. Not expecting me to go back. I don’t want to drag up difficult feelings because I don’t want to ruin the happiness I have now. And I hope she’s happy and I don’t want to ruin that either.
T is also adopted and I wonder how much his experience has shaped mine. He found his birth mother a long time ago. They’ve only met a couple of times. It’s like they just needed to do it and then go back to their lives. Since B was born, we were supposed to see her and it seemed really difficult to arrange it. Lots of tangled communication. Then she cancelled.
I wonder if she’s cancelling on purpose because it’s too much or whether the excuse she said is true. I feel slightly defensive and miffed on his behalf and on B’s behalf because I don’t understand why someone’s biological mother and grandmother doesn’t seem to want to see them. Maybe it’s too much emotionally.
Part of me feels like she’s not entitled to see B because she’s not his “real” grandmother, as she hasn’t been an involved mother to T. But that’s just me being defensive for him. I guess I don’t understand why she doesn’t want to see this beautiful man she made. I think maybe a lot of adoptees have complex and angry feelings towards birth parents and we can’t know the circumstances.
I feel compassion towards mine but it’s easy because they’re abstract and not real right now. If they were in this country and easily accessible I would feel mad if they didn’t make the effort to see me. And I kind of think feelings like that are why I have never searched. I don’t want to go down a rabbit hole of hope and disappointment. I’m fine and happy with life as it is. I kind of can’t believe how it’s worked out lately, how I have these three amazing guys I live with (if you count the dog as a guy!) and why would I want to change that, to drag up difficult feelings? Maybe that makes me a wuss.
So those are the thoughts that have been at the back of my head. At the front of my head have been the happy thoughts. The “I can’t believe that title now belongs to me” thoughts. The thought of my first Mother’s Day. On Saturday we are seeing T’s parents. And on Sunday (Mother’s Day) we are going round to my parents’ house with B and having a double.
Mother’s Day still feels like it belongs to my mother, because I’ve had thirty-odd years of celebrating it as an honour for her. This year my dad is taking us all to a restaurant for lunch for my first Mother’s Day, so it’s about me too. And it’s about T’s mum, my mother in law, and her first grandchild. And it’s our time to think of our first mums who gave birth to us all those years ago. And I think of the mothers without babies too. The unacknowledged mothers. They matter too.
As a new mum, I know I’m not special – hundred and thousands of women do it every day. And yet this year I have joined that circle of life, of women who have given life, our ancestors and the women to come down the line. I imagine I’ve joined that lineup of women, a line I never thought I’d join – through not inconsiderable effort and medical intervention – and I feel significant and insignificant at the same time.
I am me. The child of two mothers, a shadow mother and an everyday mother. The partner of a wonderful, kind, funny man. The flatmate of a brilliant dog. The mother of baby B.
Life is good.