Treat Yo Self

Fans of the brilliant US sitcom Parks and Recreation may be familiar with the concept of Treat Yo Self but if you’re not, please enjoy this video.  Basically the premise is that one day a year you should treat yourself to things that you’d never normally do or buy.

Every pregnant lady deserves to treat herself once in a while.  You’re growing a baby for God’s sake, look after yourself! I used to call it repurposing my “wine money”. So here’s a list of the lovely things I did to be kind to myself. Some of them were gifts which made them all the more enjoyable.

Prenatal Yoga

I loved prenatal yoga so much I actually miss it now. I miss stretching my body out and loosening all the aches and pains from sitting at my desk all day. I miss the camaraderie with all my fellow pregnant ladies. I miss the brilliant teacher I had who oozed confidence and support for all of us. Prenatal Yoga had a huge affect on my pregnancy and birth and it gave me a sense of general wellbeing all the way through. It also helped me sleep like a log.

Floating in Water

Oh, oh, that feeling of weightlessness! So delicious! I loved sticking my bum in the air and bobbing like a cork. Bliss. I used to do prenatal aqua aerobics towards the end of my pregnancy. I wish now I had started at 20 weeks like you’re supposed to do.  If there’s a next time round, I’ll be running into the pool for classes as soon as I can! The class made great use of these lovely foamy long sticky things called waddles that you could bend and hook under your bump for added floatiness. I wanted to rob one. I also bobbed around a couple of hotel spas when other people were enjoying the sauna but bobbing was just fine for me.

Pregnancy Massage

Now these were gifts and what thoughtful, kind gifts they were too. I had one early on in my pregnancy when it was safe to do so and boy did I need it.  My whole body was hunched up and tight from the general discomfort and horribleness of morning sickness and nausea.  I also had one at about 37 weeks.  It was done on my sides as there was another pregnant lady using the massage table with the hole in it at the same time but it too was very soothing on the bod.

Natural Wheatgerm Heatpacks

It was a very clever midwife who suggested natural wheatgerm heatpacks to me.  She recommended them as a good early labour tool but in fact I found them great for late pregnancy and the few days post birth.  My lovely husband used to heat two up for me in the microwave at bedtime and drape one around my neck to ease my sore shoulders and then the other across my lower back. Co-sy. After the birth, my upper body was very achy from tensing all the muscles during labour and the heatpacks were really effective in warming and softening everything up.  You can get these heatpacks in a lot of chemists or health shops.  They’re covered in fleece on the outside and feel like there’s little beans inside them when you squeeze them.  I’ve seen them range in price from €6 to €14 but they seem to be all the same.  I love these guys so much I’ve started buying them for all my pregnant friends!

San Pellegrino Limonata

Because it’s delicious and lemony.  There’s probably some Vitamin C in it, maybe. I used to drink it with my Beef-o-rama bagel from Itsabagel at lunchtime to help absorb the iron in the roast beef. That’s my excuse anyway. 😉

Pedicures

My toes got very far away very quickly. At first I couldn’t comfortably bend hand to foot but then I couldn’t even see them. I also started to heat up like a furnace so the toes needed to be out for comfort, particularly at work.  Cue the pedicure! A good one can last you three to four weeks – it’s not like you’re out on the tiles every night chipping it off barstools. And its lovely to have pretty toes, especially when someone else has done all the hard work. 🙂

Kiehl’s Gardenia Body Wash

This was a gift from a very wise woman.  I had read other women talking about having a nice shower gel for their hospital bag on online forums and at the time it didn’t seem like something that would be important to me.  I was wrong! This smelled decadent and was so luxurious on my skin.  I had a huge bottle but for the first few weeks after my baby was born I was showering nearly twice daily (more on this later) and I flew through it.  It was a truly lovely thing to have.  It made me feel great.

Mums, do you remember the lovely things you had or did when you were pregnant? Or are there any pregnant ladies at the moment who’d like to share their indulgences?

Treat Yo Self!

Accidental attachment parenting

I’d say someone in Time magazine is getting their Christmas bonus this year given the global furore around the cover of last week’s issue and that they’ve shifted millions of copies on the back of it. Although now I’m just thinking maybe they haven’t sold as many as they would have liked because I’m sure plenty of breastfeeding and attachment parenting advocates are actively boycotting it. Like my good self, not that Time would notice of course considering I don’t buy it anyway but really I’m dying to read the Dr Sears article that’s behind the paywall but I’m not prepared to pay for it.

What isn’t behind the paywall is a selection of great opinion articles from Time contributors one of which I wanted to share with you because I totally agree with everything she says! Don’t you love when people agree with you? It makes you feel right ;), which I think is exactly her point.

Susanna Schrobsdorff has a great piece called Confessions of an Accidental Attachment Parent which I’ll let you read for yourself but I just wanted to share a couple of gems that jumped out at me.

Talking about becoming a mother she says:

“Most of us don’t choose to be one of those mothers. By “those mothers,” I mean whichever kind of parent you made fun of before you had your first child.”

Hands up! That’s me! I made fun of all kinds of mothers because I didn’t  have a clue what I was talking about. Simple as.

On co-sleeping, she says:

“Naturally, after a while, dragging yourself out of bed to slump in a rocker for half the night seems ridiculous. I think you know where I’m going here. Yes, the family bed. It’s like moving from pot to cocaine. You are so tired, and it’s so easy.”

Guilty as charged.  This is exactly what happened in our house. Now it didn’t happened for a long time because we had a co-sleeper attached to the bed for the first seven months but then we moved the little man into his own room and immediately everyone got more sleep because it turns out we’d been waking each other up with the various nocturnal noises that three people make.  But recently there’s been a lot of baby waking and a LOT of waking up in the armchair in his room with our necks twisted stiffly to the left and pins and needles down one side of our bodies with the baby fast asleep in our arms. He broke us eventually. He’s also become much more amenable to a night time cuddle rather than assuming the star fish position in the centre of the bed so everyone’s getting more sleep and less pins and needles. Hurray!

She then goes on to talk about reassuring ourselves about our parenting decisions and says:

“…so if you can find another mother who is doing whatever you’re doing to get the kid to sleep or eat or talk, you feel better. Women who go back to work need one another. And those of us who stay home are quite literally lost without one another. Surely, intragroup sniping happens because we’re trying to reassure ourselves that whatever we’re doing is the right thing — and that means whatever she’s doing has to be wrong.”

Now I agree with most of that but I’m going to amend the last line by saying “whatever she’s doing has to be wrong for me“. I’m too busy and too tired to be honest to be critiquing other people’s parenting styles for the sake of it. I did however, and still continue to, get great comfort from hearing other mums resorting to the same solutions as me where my inner pre-baby expert would have tut-tutted. (A little TV to distract a baby that hasn’t eaten all day anyone?)

Anyway! I really enjoyed the article but as I mentioned in the title, maybe it’s because I agree with her 🙂 What do you think?

Here’s some other interesting reads from the same section. Sure you’ll either agree or disagree!

Why Breastfeeding Isn’t the Bugaboo

How Feminism Begat Intensive Mothering

Parents Do What’s Right For Them, Not For The Kids

The Detached Dad’s Manifesto

Chasing the sandman

If you had told me this time last year that I wasn’t going to get a full night’s sleep for 365 days and counting I wouldn’t have believed you. In fact the thought was inconceivable. Before my baptism of fire into the world of motherhood, I was that woman who might have occasionally tossed and turned on a Sunday evening after a particularly rough and unscheduled weekend and then spent the rest of the working week talking about how tired I was.

The most interesting thing that I have learned is that there are so many different kinds of tiredness that it’s quite like that widely circulated myth that the Inuits have many different words for snow. There are so many shades of tiredness that you lose count and they are each unique in their characteristics. I have also found that usually the one you’re experiencing at the moment is the absolute very worst.

There is no tiredness like that initial just pregnant first trimester fatigue, which I had for a couple of weeks before I even knew I was pregnant and I fell asleep at the drop of a hat. On the bus, on the couch, sometimes an occasional nod on the chest at my desk after lunch. I had to take a nap as soon as I came in from work. My head would be heavy and my eyelids sticky with tiredness.

I remember fondly the sleepiness of late pregnancy when I had the privilege as a first time mum of luxurious afternoon naps after spending the day padding around the house daydreaming about our new little family.

Those initial exhausting days and nights after the baby arrived all rolled into one and seemed quite manageable at the start when combined with the euphoria of new parenthood and snuggling with our little bundle. But as the hormones subsided, the tiredness stayed. Our muscles and bones ached and when I stood still in the silence for a minute I could hear my ears ringing.

Then there’s the tiredness of having a baby that refuses to be put down all night; the tiredness of the nights when they wake every sleep cycle; the tiredness of not feeling like you’ve a minute to yourself. There’s the fresh tiredness of broken sleep after a few weeks of a good run. It’s like opening the wound all over again.

Our son is not a good sleeper. He’s had some stops and starts at long stretches of sleep but more often than not he wakes frequently at night. Sometimes it’s perfectly manageable and sometimes I have stood in the dark in the dead of night with tears running down my face willing him to sleep just so that I can close my stinging eyes for five minutes.

I remember reading this quote a few months ago from Peggy O’Mara, the founder of Mothering magazine in the US on the brilliant blog Talk Birth that really touched me and brought me great comfort when we were going through a particularly bad patch:

“Why is it that to rise gladly at 4:00 am to meditate and meet one’s God is considered a religious experience, and yet to rise at 4:00 am to serve the needs of one’s helpless child is considered the ultimate in deprivation?

Mothering a child is the greatest act of service one can do. It is an act of surrender, and act of love…

One can learn sitting meditation by rocking and nursing a little one to sleep; one can learn reclining meditation by staying still to avoid disturbing a little one who has been awake for hours; and one can learn walking meditation by walking and swaying with a little one who would like to be asleep for hours. One must learn to breathe deeply in a relaxed and meditative manner in order to still the mind that doubts one’s strength to go on, that sees every speck of dust on the floor and wants to clean it, and that tempts one to be up and about the busyness of accomplishment… “

It rings so true for me. You have to breathe through it. There is nothing like the stillness of the night and holding and comforting your little baby in your arms, just the two of you. Listening to them purr, watching their little chest rise and fall and the whispyness of their hot breathe against your skin.

Broken sleep has become the new norm in our house. Everyone’s tired but everyone’s happy too so that’s okay. The hard bit I find really is the constant questioning of S’s sleeping habits by nearly everyone in our lives. I’ve started to lie because I’m not prepared to get into it and you know, sometimes I genuinely forget how he slept the night before. I know he’ll have woken up but I couldn’t let you how many times because it doesn’t really matter after the fact, does it?

Some day he’ll be a great sleeper. Like when he’s a teenager and he’ll sleep til noon on the weekends. People will probably be raising eyebrows about that too. 😉

Morning Sickness: FFS

Hyperemesis sufferers! You have my utmost sympathy and total admiration.  Now those women, they’re “mom enough“*.

I, on the other hand, was a trembling lame fawn in the face of the glaring headlights of morning sickness.  Or all day sickness, whatever you’re having yourself. My first trimester was my looniest by far, initially driven by the crippling fear that something bad would happen after waiting so long to get pregnant and then quickly replaced by the 11 week hangover that was morning sickness.  The relentless, banging hangover that could not be soothed by a huge fry, vat of tea and a two hour kip in the afternoon.

I spent a lot of the first trimester praying, which as an atheist was most uncharacteristic to say the least.

Oh God, please don’t let any cars drive past as I’m retching into the neighbours bushes.” (This prayer went unanswered.)

Oh Jesus, please don’t make me have to run off the bus and then throw up on the street in front of everyone.” (Half answered: had to run, but a false alarm)

Oh God, please get me to the end of this meeting without puking on the table.” (Answered, TG 😉 )

Visits to the supermarket were marred in stress, mostly for my husband, as I stood in the middle of the shop sweating while eyeing up the emergency exits, willing my stomach contents to stay down as the different smells from each aisle sent nausea waves of varying intensity through my body and I answered all of his questions with “I don’t know what I want. No, not that. That and that and that. Quickly.” He always maintained a strong silence while watching me fill the trolley with stuff he knew I was never going to eat but also knew better than to question my purchases.

There were days when I could only eat things that were tomato based and then the next couple of days the sight of tomatoes would make me cry. I had a bagful of food on my person at all times which I dipped into at a minimum of two hour intervals in a bid to fend off the illness.  On my return from the canteen one day, with a substantial and varied paper plate of goodies bowing in the middle with the weight of them, a male colleague commented “you’re always eating, do you know that?”, at which point his surrounding female coworkers went into a communal cluck at the cheek of him.  I, meanwhile, was too sick to respond and instead went back to my office and tried to curl up under my desk.

Photo courtesy of www.priorsrec.co.uk
Photo courtesy of www.priorsrec.co.uk

Morning sickness ruined a lot of things forever for me. There are a few things that even now make me get stick in my mouth a little when I come across them. This beautiful handwash which I had in the bathroom and had absolutely loved the smell of.  It won’t darken our door again.  Chanel No. 5, my signature scent for 10 years, gone forever. As I mentioned in my post about music, Horse Outside gives me the wobbles, as do both the Matt Cardle cover and Biffy Clyro original of Many of Horror (but there’s a non-morning sickness related case to be made there…).

When the fog finally lifted at the end of week 16, I was like a new woman and unbelieveably grateful to the universe for this new healthy body that let me eat. Thankfully it didn’t return towards the end of my pregnancy, which for some reason was a threat that other women loved to dangle over my head when I was feeling well. Thanks ladies.  Sometimes when I get a twinge in my ovaries from the hold of a newborn baby, I remind myself that I’ll probably have to go through all that again and I know I’m not quite ready yet. 🙂

* Obviously, we’re all mom enough, I’m just being a smartarse.