Toddlers: the best stage ever?*

I have a toddler. Over night she decided she now walks. Everywhere. Though scared at first (afore warned as I was by friends with older children) I can say I’m heartily loving this stage**.
Today we went to Tesco and though it took an hour and a half to buy seven items, she walked and walked and walked some more. She stopped to poke at/try to kiss other toddlers, she investigated everything in her eye line, she grabbed a strange man’s leg, she was enthralled by the whole experience. Back home I decided to clear out her old clothes and she toddled back and forth between rooms, picking up items that were previously chewable but have now become lethal when held in her mouth whilst walking.
Come bedtime my previously rampant tot just fell asleep on the bottle. Just fell asleep, right there, on the bottle.
It’s a miracle.
I mean, I’m currently looking after her full time, but this toddler stage is a doddle! I can’t imagine how her insistence on walking is going to get annoying when I actually have to be somewhere, it will definitely be a breeze when she starts running and I’m definitely not worried about the day there is traffic and she decides that holding my hand isn’t fun anymore…***

* I know it’s not
** We are on day 3
*** Scared. So scared.

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1 year on

Looking back at the past year the overwhelming urge I get is to laugh. Never did I think I’d utter the words “I don’t think the turtle needs to go in your bottom does it?” Or “You don’t hear mummy crying when it’s time to stop brushing her teeth do you?”

I found patience reserves I never thought I had, I’ve seen 4am more times than I did in the whole of my 20s. Ive had someone else’s poo on me and didn’t scream (it took a few times), I cleaned white vomit off every outfit I wore for the first four months, scooped five orange vomit-canos out of the high chair’s crevasses and scrubbed diarrhoea off the car seat. I’ve picked noses, cleaned ear-holes, bitten fingernails, creamed bottoms and wiped snot with my bare fingers.

I’ve been fed soggy biscotti, licked Calpol off hands, shared most things I’ve eaten in the last 4 months and have tasted so much baby food I could be a critic (Cow and Gate cauliflower cheese is my favourite), I’ve perfected the fish-hook-finger-in-mouth-object-removal-technique. I know the words to all the Disney songs and have sung and danced in public more times this year than I care to recollect.

Ive been woken up by screaming, head butting, face slapping and once, a tiny finger rammed straight up my nose.

Every evening after bath time, I have a long and tiring wrestle to get my freakishly strong child into her pyjamas (every single night) but seeing her excitement as I get the hair brush out* makes the bent back fingernails and kicked in boobs all worth it.
And when I tuck her into her bed with her freshly washed bedding and she does a last minute head-turn as I’m giving her her calpol meaning it squirts its bright pink unfathomable stickiness all over her clean sheets, I just smile**, change her bedding and kiss her goodnight.

Yes she might fling food across the kitchen, hide every remote we own and eat my iPhone every time she sees it but when those chubby little arms go round my neck for a big squeeze (no matter how inconvenient the timing) or she totters towards me with drool all over her face for a kiss (always with her mouth wide open, why?) it makes all of the above just forgotten in an instant.
I can’t believe my tiny helpless newborn is now a loud and rambunctious toddler and I can’t wait to see what the second year has in store for us – I have stocked up on Calpol and am busy inventing an armoured bra.

* she loves having her hair brushed, it’s not for beating her with.
** not really.

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Sleep Training A Diva

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When my baby was 7 weeks old smuggins over here knew NOTHING. “My baby is sleeping through!” I’d crow, skipping through the flat noisily at 11pm. In the daytime I’d put her down in her cot for a nap and walk out merrily, revelling in the silence of my sleeping angel child.

Fast forward to, yep you guessed it, teething and holy God were we in for it. At 5.5 months the appearance of The Teething Monster coincided with us packing up to move house and blithely saying to each other “Shall we use her room for box storage?” “Yes she can come in with us” “Oh yes that’ll be no bother”

HA!

So The Teething Monster arrived and my formerly awesome self soother transformed. It happened gradually you see, an extra long hand holding here, a night feed there, until at 7 months we’d been reduced to blithering sleep deprived maniacs at each other’s throats at 4am trying to get her to sleep after the 18th time of her waking up. Every time my husband turned over in bed she’d stir, every time she stirred we’d wake up, if we dared to speak she’d be bolt upright trying to pull herself up and if we left her she’d cry like her world was ending.
It gets worse. Our sale fell through. Yep. It took until she was 11 months old before we finally moved. By that time she was waking up approximately 378 times a night and at the stage where naps would only be considered if we attempted them at exactly the right time of day, precise location, hand holding position and astrological alignment. Our daughter had become a complete and total sleep diva.
My husband and I woke up livid, spent the day livid and went to bed livid. It was a dark, dark time.

Then the move happened and because of the angle of the door, the movers couldn’t get her cot into her new nursery. As soon as they left, knackered beyond belief, hungry, thirsty and still traumatised from another night from hell with baby JLo, I got out my screwdriver and got on my hands and knees. Silently, my husband joined me until (somewhat jubilantly) we placed the cot in the nursery, amid the boxes, and shut the door.
Needless to say, after mini Mariah was deposited in her own room that first night, we simply traipsed blearily 375 times into her room, down to the kitchen (now heartbreakingly 2 floors below) and back to bed, lying tensely waiting for the next cry.
It took 2 more weeks before we were mentally ready to sleep train her. One night after a particularly traumatising 4am conversation involving the word “aaaaaaarrrrrggghhhhhhh” we decided. Enough was enough.
We looked it up. We looked at each other and we silently nodded in solidarity. That beautiful little insomniac needed taking down a peg or ten.
Night one. A fresh DVD box set ready, we gave her a bath, warm milk, read her a story, and kissed her goodnight, turned on her dream sheep and got the hell out of there. What followed can only be described as intensely traumatic. There’s a very good reason why the sound of a baby screaming is used as a torture method. That shit is awful. She wailed, she screamed, she stood waiting for me to come back with tears and snot pouring from her little red face, sweat slicking her hair back like a Soprano, eyes wide and scared. It was dreadful. There was so much cortisol and adrenaline flooding my body that if a wild lion had walked in on me at that moment, I could have killed it with my bare hands.
Ten minutes later we suddenly turned to each other – the sound, the terrible, awful, gut wrenching sound…had stopped. Now to how check she was still alive whilst avoiding waking her…in a very old house with very creaky stairs (there was commando crawling involved).
She was asleep. Mission accomplished. That night she woke once, one visit from me and she was back down with not a murmur.
The next day we put her down, endured just 5 minutes of the noise from hell and that was it.
I woke up the next morning at 4am in a cold sweat, I ran into her room mentally rehearsing what I’d learned from my paediatric first aid app and there she was, sleeping peacefully like a soft pink cherub.
The next night just 3 minutes of moderate whinging and another full night’s sleep. Thereafter I’d turn her over after her story, kiss her goodnight and skip downstairs like a pilled up pixie high fiving myself all the way (my poor, traumatised husband conveniently had 3 work Christmas parties that week so missed most of it).
Aaaaaaand breathe. Sleep was once again mine for the taking, I could go to bed without a stomach knotted in dread at how long I’d actually get to sleep before she woke up the first time.
After that first week I would have gone on stage in front of the world and extolled the virtues of the so-called CIO method.
All sorted. Life was good again. Job done. Thank you and goodnight.

Except 2 weeks later she got a bug.

Then it was Christmas.

So here I sit after 3 weeks of Sleep Diva’s return, back on day 1 of training. This time I invested in a video monitor which is currently sitting on my lap finally displaying a sleeping baby. This time was worse than the first time with an hour and 50 minutes of repeating the scream-lie her down-shh-exit cycle and I fear the older she gets the harder it will be to re-train her. For now though, it’s finally quiet.

But if a wild lion walks in now, it’s dead meat.

Guest Blog from a brand new mum: Things I’ve learnt in the past 5 weeks

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We’ve made it to the 5 week mark and as things have started to settle down, I’ve done a Carrie Bradshaw and got to thinking about what I’ve learnt… if anything.

Shiny things – Like Magpies, babies love shiny things. You can try all you want to get your newborn to look at your face but unless you have wrapped yourself in tinfoil they won’t be interested. Family members may encourage you by saying “She recognises her Mummy” whilst pointing the baby in your general direction but you know the truth. If she does actually turn her head to look at you, you feel a flicker of warmth and then you realise…. you are sitting in front of a photo frame or a mirror or a particularly reflective light fitting. The same goes for windows and people with dark hair and ‘ghosts’ as I read on one forum. Not a big deal but don’t patronise me by saying she’s looking at me.

Boredom – Years ago I was holding my friend’s newborn and I shared this gem with her: “Newborns are boring, aren’t they?” She looked at me like I’d called her baby a gremlin and took said gremlin back immediately, just in case I dropped it out of boredom. Touché. Now that I have a newborn of my own, I cringe at my remark to that glowing new mother and as I hold my gorgeous daughter in my arms, I think….. I was totally right! Newborns are well boring!! There’s only so much staring at her face I can do before reaching for my phone/the remote/some food.

I didn’t really do myself any favours, my daughter was a stubborn little wotsit and clung to my uterine walls until she was evicted at 41+5. That meant that I had 6 weeks of maternity leave before she even showed up where I mainly stayed indoors and watched trashy TV. But that was okay because ‘soon I was going to be really busy!’ When we took her home, I found myself staying indoors and watching trashy TV. Sigh! Sure there was the nappy changing and feeding but newborns sleep …….. a lot……. “Why didn’t you get out and about?” I hear you say. “C-section!” I shout back at you. That meant no driving because you use your abdomen to drive a car, oh no wait, I have no idea why I wasn’t allowed to drive. Anyway, I kept going on walks but wouldn’t get too far. I was like Harry Potter – if my scar started to hurt, I knew something ominous was about to happen – so I would head for home having filled a measly 15 minutes.

So quiet frankly, prepare for the boredom; book in visitors, get lots of snacks, take up a hobby (A one handed hobby – this is where CandyCrush comes in useful) find a box set to get into or watch lots of trashy TV. Comfort yourself with the knowledge that the boring times won’t last forever (We’re now mobile and much happier) and all of that time indoors with your newborn is useful – it has helped you become an expert on hoarders and 600lb people.

Don’t have any expectations about the birth and you won’t be disappointed – This one particularly irritates me because I was very much blasé about the whole birth thing. I didn’t make a birth plan and had the opinion of ‘There are many ways that my baby can come into the world so there’s no point worrying about it.’ This attitude made me very accepting of the fact that in the end, I had to have a c-section. However, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that my baby and I would be separated and for a long time. I vaguely entertained the notion that they might have to go into special care but I never put that scenario together with the c-section scenario which resulted in me being immobile and my baby being on the other side of the hospital fighting for her life. Bad times. She’s fine now by the way. Good times. I had visions of my family coming onto the ward, me with my bundle of joy in my arms being showered with praise and love and champagne. Actually, my mum turned up when my catheter was being taken out and couldn’t hold her grandchild for 8 days to reduce the chance of infection. I’m not saying you should expect awful things to happen because they probably won’t, but just realise that your ideal scenario is just that, an ideal, and we don’t live in an ideal world. However….

You might get lucky –  I hate being asked “How is she sleeping?” for the ridiculous reason of my having to answer “She sleeps really well.” Ditto “Are you tired?” because I have to respond “No.” I feel like people think I’m lying to show them up or I’m a fraud, I’ve broken some kind of new parent code. However, she does sleep really well. When we first met her she was an incredibly sleepy baby, doctors said this was a recovery sleep to sleep off the effects of the hypoxia. After 4 days she was still sleepy but I was told to wake her every 3 hours to feed her. Then someone else told us to demand feed. I of course listened to their advice because it meant no more waking her, and me, every 3 hours. So, we put her to bed and then we went to bed, I turned my alarm off and rolled over. 6 hours later, I sat bolt upright thinking she had died! She hadn’t.  I fed her and put her down where she slept another 3 hours. This is how it has been since day 13 other than the 3 nights where she slept right through 10-6. I know we are very lucky, I can’t explain it, all I know is that I expected to feel like a zombie and actually I wake up most mornings feeling refreshed. Before you hate me too much, be comforted by the fact that I find it very hard to enjoy it. Typical. Cruel fate has me waking up and looking at my watch and instead of being pleased, I panic that she has overheated or dehydrated, or overheated AND dehydrated AND I can’t shake the ominous feeling that it could be something to do with the hypoxia……

Overwhelming love – Something that I was told lots but was of little comfort to me when it was actually happening was “Don’t worry if you don’t feel an overwhelming sensation of love for them straight away.” Lots of people do, lots of people don’t. I definitely did not. I didn’t see her come out, all I saw was them hold up this slumped, wizened, blue, grumpy old man caked in poo, lots and lots of poo. She went out of sight and got resuscitated, then she came back so “Mummy could have a cuddle”. Mummy didn’t have a ‘cuddle’. Mummy was lying down whilst a surgical team did the Handjive whilst holding her internal organs. Mummy just poked her nose and said “Hi”.

I then didn’t see my baby until 20 hours later, by which point I was beginning to doubt I’d even had a baby. Don’t get me wrong, I liked her, I thought she was really pretty and I liked holding her but she didn’t feel like mine, I had no affinity with her. I was worried about her and scared for her but didn’t mind leaving her and going back to my ward. I definitely loved going and getting coffees with my husband and not having to change her nappy. On day 5 she got moved into a room with me, no more nurses, “This is it” I thought, ” Bonding time!” but I just went through the motions for the next week or so, doing everything I knew I had to do but not knowing why. I worried a lot that I was a crappy Mum and a bad person and that because of this I was more likely to leave her outside Tesco or drop her or put Strongbow in her bottle, I’d already given her a dummy, where was it going to end!?  Slowly day by day we got to know each other and each day I loved her more than the day before and it all started making a bit more sense. I genuinely think it has only been in the last week or so that I’ve got to the point where I can say “I love you” to her and actually know that I really do. I can tell that I do in the strangest of ways. I hear a song on the radio and it makes me think of how I feel about her, I don’t listen to what my husband’s saying because I just want to tell him about the poo she did earlier and I can’t watch Jeremy Kyle anymore (Shame.) because I’m so scared that someone will break her heart. However I know that if that happens, I will be there to rip out their eyeballs and burn them. This is overwhelming love.

Lose 20lbs / Get naturally beautiful

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ARGH! Why did I click on it? Why do we always click on these links / read the articles? We’re so desperate for a quick fix for something that we actually already know exactly how to do we just can’t be bothered doing it.

I mean, that’s the truth isn’t it? Really, truly, deep down the truth is that I didn’t go for a run today because I was too lazy to. I freely admit it! It wasn’t because the postman was running late or I needed to go to the shop to get carrots or because the moon was in Capricorn, it was because I couldn’t be arsed.

I don’t drink 2 litres of water every day because (I’m ashamed to admit this) I can’t be bothered being out whilst desperate for the loo – it’s too annoying. I have to find a suitable loo, manoeuvre myself in with the pram or go 1 handed holding the baby, then, who’s minding my bag? Excuses, excuses.

Now, I’m pretty good diet-wise, having had boys at school trying to find new and inventive ways of telling me I was fat every day, made me learn how to how to lose weight and not get fat again. I took my Tree Trunks to the library and researched it. I learned that processed food and sugar was bad, lean meat and vegetables were good. So were exercise and water (but such was my stupidity that I chose to replace these last 2 with smoking).
So, as painful as it was to get called Great Big Washing Machine every time I donned a lab coat in science, actually, learning how to eat properly early has helped me avoid fad diets my whole adult life*. I learned there’s no point trying quick fixes to lose weight for good, you can’t just “go on a diet” lose some weight and go back to “normal” you need to change your normal. Reverse the ratio from 90:10 normal:diet.

I may have lost the baby weight but I still have a way to go in not scaring small children when I’ve not troweled a fake face on top of my crumbling natural one. This morning I followed a link about “finding your natural beauty”. You’ll never guess what it said: genes are important but if you don’t have those (nope) there’s other things you can do: get a full night’s sleep, drink loads of water, eat vegetables & oily fish, cut out caffeine.
My first instinct was to throw my damn phone at the wall going “I thought you were going to tell me about a miracle cream, you vile harridan!” but then I wondered, am I just being lazy/finding excuses just like we find excuses for why we can’t lose weight?

Am I doing the same thing with my health? Well let’s assess, my kidneys often hurt due to my seriously unhealthy lack of water, I NEVER take my makeup off before bed, I drink about eleven thousand coffees a day, I get 4-5 hours sleep. Thing is, all this is entirely within my power to change – my baby sleeps 7pm – 5am, yet I don’t go to bed til 11 or 12! Doesn’t take a bloody life guru to tell me to switch off The Great British Menu and go to bed.

So no more wondering why I look like a teenage Uncle Fester when I do take my make up off. I’m going to change it. 2 litres of water every day, 8 hours sleep a night, and make up off every night for a week and no coffee. Starting…tomorrow. Only kidding, starting now.

Lots of love,

Tree Trunks, Big Big Washing Machine, The Beast.

* OK so I still tried every fad diet that came out until I was about 27 when I finally realised that nothing could beat a healthy attitude to food.

Sorry for being a *!@?

I think my fellow Gorillamums and I are all realising this at the same time. They may say it more eloquently than I, but my personal conclusion is that I was a bit of a kn*b to other mums before I had my own baby.

I want to say sorry. I want to say sorry for the time I went to my friend’s for dinner and when her hubby said she was upstairs feeding the baby before bed, I went up “to say hi” and started having a chat. The baby was turning round to look, wouldn’t feed, started getting all excited, I mean, it must have taken all her willpower not to throw her breast feeding pillow at me screaming “what sort of an idiot are you? Get out get out get out damn you or he’ll never go down!”.

I want to say sorry to all the mums who offered me their baby and I held it until it started crying and then gave it back straight away without thinking for one second of trying to quiet it myself so she could at least get a chance to shake out her back and get the feeling back in her hands.

I’m sorry for the time I said to my aunty that I’d take my 3 year old cousin out to Coney Island for the day and then being surprised when he poohed his pants as soon as we got home. I mean “I asked him if he needed the toilet and he said no” (when does a 3 year old ever go to the toilet when he has the option to cr*p his pants instead?). I feel that now might be the time to admit that all he had to eat that day was some cotton candy and a spiral lollypop “I asked him if he would eat the sandwich but he didn’t want it”.

I’m sorry to my best mate whose brand new daughter I was too scared to feed. What I should have done was say, like she said to me “I’ll take her for a couple of hours, you go and have a sleep”. Instead I fed her like a total moron, terrified I was choking her, then gave her back to my friend during winding because I was scared her head would fall off “it’s really wobbly”.

I’m sorry for all the birth stories I listened to and said “ew”. Instead of “you are amazing”.

I’m sorry for every time I walked through a door and didn’t even notice the woman behind me with the pram. That goes for stairs, buses and tubes too.

I’m sorry I asked to move seats on the plane that time because there was a baby behind me that had been screaming its head off for 3 hours. I’m sorry I didn’t either offer to take the baby for a walk so the mum could take some deep breaths or at least get that poor woman a large gin and tonic. I could just have offered a smile that said “don’t worry, no one on here minds, you just try and relax, the baby can probably sense that you’re willing it with every fibre of your being to Just. Go. To. Sleep.” but no. I asked the cabin crew to move me and they did and the worst thing ever is, I went to sleep. I went to sleep. That poor woman was at baggage claim five hours later looking like the living dead. I am so ashamed.

I vow from now on to fully and whole heartedly support the “Mum-sterhood” – I’m there with you now, I can take your baby and have it cry and not throw it back at you like it’s made of anthrax, I will try to make it happy again and let you have a rest. I can smile at you sympathetically when your baby is screaming and selfish little upstarts like the 19 year old me are giving you dirty looks. I was on the receiving end of one the other day and you know what? I just smiled to myself and thought, “you might be trying to celebrate the end of your A Levels in this nice pub with your mates, but you know what? It’s the only pub round here which has space for 4 prams, it’s walking distance from my flat, it’s raining and I have lost my pushchair’s rain cover and further more, little pup, in a few years time, you will be sitting over here with your mum friends trying desperately to make your baby stop crying and I will be sitting over there with my two children playing outside nicely and I will smile at you as if to say, “don’t worry, we’ve all been there”.

OR my kids will be running round screaming, having tantrums, throwing food and playing computer games and you will still be giving me dirty looks, but I will still smile at you. Because one day you will be the mother of a 7 year old and….and…oh we could go on forever.

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© gorillamums 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any material or media (including images) without express and written permission from this blog’s authors and/or owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to gorillamums with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Mum mates (if there’s a fire – I know they’ve got my back)

I wanted to write about the importance of having a mum support network. I started loads of times and couldn’t really find the words to truly emphasise just how important it’s been for me personally. I could just say “it’s really f*cking important”. But that’s a bit sweary and not very helpful. So I have decided to tell you about my own support network and you can fill in for yourself how you think they have each individually and together helped me, supported me, reassured me and made me laugh out loud at 4:20am.
Before you read this you should know that I’m not great at putting people in boxes and figuring them out straight away – in fact I’m pretty terrible at it. My technique for understanding people is to think of what they’d be like in a fire and work back from there. Don’t ask me why but it seems to work.
Nina – the cool one; looks cool, speaks cool, just is cool. But completely effortlessly. She’s that girl in the year above you at school who you tried to do your hair like, but failed. Motivational through her sheer belief that things will be great. In a fire Nina would be the one slapping you round the face saying “get a grip you idiot, and don’t forget the marshmallows for toasting!”.
Ruth – so together but with such a witty, cheeky sense of humour, she makes me want to type “LOL” and I never type LOL. Takes everything in her stride, seemingly completely unflappable. In a fire she’d be the person standing on the front lawn (maybe with a G&T) wondering what all that fuss was about and secretly wondering if it’s too soon to crack a joke about the fact I forgot to put on trousers in all the panic.
Raluca – one of the most nurturing people I have ever met, so caring, huge heart and seems to worry about herself last. You could bottle her and use her to heal the hardest of hearts. In a fire she’d be the one taking care of anyone that was singed and listening to your pathetic tale of the splinter you got in your finger trying to open the front door.
Bianca – a force to be reckoned with. I don’t think I’ve ever met a person more sure of their own mind or where they stand. If we were in some mythical time, she’d be the one wearing the skull of the last person that p*ssed her off as a necklace and leading the rebel army, possibly whilst riding a dragon. In a fire she’d be the person kicking the living daylights out of the person who started it.
Vicky – touchingly thoughtful, thinks of others constantly and one of those people you vow to be more like every year, you know, the one who never misses your special day and moreover whose card arrives on time, and is personalised. The one who makes you shake your head in wonder and go “…she remembered”. In a fire she’d be the one to save your most treasured item that you forgot when you ran out panicking.
Anna – the kind of person you are with for five minutes and just feel better about life in general. Infectiously positive with a thousand watt smile that just makes you feel OK about the world. The human equivalent of looking at a tranquil sea. In a fire Anna would be cheering you on whilst you tried to dig yourself out through the floor with a spoon, before gently drawing your attention to the fact that she’d unlocked the front door. Then reassure you that digging was a good plan though.
Bree – human ray of sunshine. Excited and vivacious about life, magnetic; draws people to her. Makes you feel energised and want to go and run through a meadow shrieking “everything’s going to be awesome” or make her a friendship bracelet and solemnly vow to become blood brothers forever. In a fire Bree would save everyone. Then make the firemen and cup of tea. Or glass of wine.
Sophia – Considered, intelligent, sweet hearted and completely stunning. So modest you could miss out on knowing her unless you really needle in there. The kind of person you could spend a whole day talking to and never run out of things you want to know about her. In a fire Sophia would be the one grabbing a can of beans, an oven glove and a bag of flour and fashioning an extinguisher. She learned it the time she ran a fire training camp in the Outer Hebrides for a year. The answer to your next question is “because you never asked”

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© gorillamums 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any material or media (including images) without express and written permission from this blog’s authors and/or owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to gorillamums with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Love daughter, hate nappies

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I need to get something off my chest – I know it’s controversial – but I hate changing nappies. Now, I’m very much a champion of the “mumsterhood” and I would do anything to support my fellow mums, but really, does anyone actually like changing nappies? Are you sure? There’s pooh there! Pooh is disgusting to me whether it comes from my darling daughter’s little pink bottom, the fluffy behind of a baby rabbit or the hairy a*se of a giant man. It’s pooh, it’s disgusting because it smells horrendous, it looks horrendous, it’s…pooh! 

My daughter, aka the sh*t machine poohs every day, sometimes twice a day. The only bits I like about this is that a) I assume it means she’s healthy and b) the funny red googly-eyed straining face she does when she’s curling one out. It’s pretty amusing, especially when she does it in public and everyone’s watching her. Poor girl is going to get some serious ribbing in adult life if people don’t forget about it before she’s old enough to feel embarrassment.
I don’t make a big deal about hating pooh (except dog pooh which will never have a place in my life) I don’t complain about changing nappies I just don’t like it. OK sometimes I will pass her to my husband right after she’s done one and when he goes “I think she’s poohed”, I act surprised. Very occasionally I just look at him with a sad face and say “she’s poohed”. But mostly I just adopt my coping mechanism which I’ve had for every stage of her pooh and get on with it. My coping mechanism in case you were wondering is this 1) Hold breath 2) Try not to look at it 3) If it’s really bad say “Oh my God, this is disgusting” repeatedly in my head.
Here’s why I did this at every stage; because there has been no stage that wasn’t disgusting. The black tar ones when she was first born were revolting and scary and almost as big as her. They took about 700 balls of cotton to remove – then once I’d manoeuvred her little bird legs back into her blasted baby grow, she’d do another – straight away. Then there was the “liquified alien” stage – the clue is in the name. Then there was the yellow curry-sauce projectile stage which was the worst, and dangerous to boot; I got poohed on (and screamed), my best mate got poohed on (it took 2 washes to get it off her white top), my husband had to deal with what can only be described as a butt explosion which went so far up her back she had to go in the bath. Which brings us to now, where we are in the semi-solid-sludge stage. Guess what? It’s still gross and it will continue to be gross – forever. My love for her is unconditional and endless; and so is my hatred for pooh.

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© gorillamums 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any material or media (including images) without express and written permission from this blog’s authors and/or owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to gorillamums with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Guest Blog: A Gorilla Dad’s top 10 tips

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I, like many brave men before me, have just embarked on the biggest test of my manliness to date – fatherhood.

Like most fathers, my first thought was that I was happy to be a “producer” –  I have fulfilled my most basic human purpose: producing an offspring to continue the human race. I hope to produce more children to further continue of the human race, but, as I know it would continue with or without me, my simple hope is that one of my offspring will grow up to become be a world famous sportsman/woman, hugely successful businessman/woman, or…just someone that makes loads of money, and looks after good old mum and dad in their old age.

Now, I love my wife, she is awesome and my best friend. I also love kids, they are very cute and make me laugh, but, like most men, I am worried about being a good Dad. My attention span is limited to say the least; can I stare adoringly at our child for hours without getting distracted? No. Will I get bored of Iggle Piggle and want to punch him in the face? Maybe.

We have been blessed with a daughter who is, without doubt, the most perfect little creature I could have wished for. Putting aside the pregnancy (for another post, but involved telling my wife repeatedly she did not look like a whale, and an exorbitant mount of flatulence – blamed on the baby), I started the fatherhood journey happy, relaxed but slightly concerned about how on earth to look after a little person who can’t walk, talk, eat, clothe or bathe themselves, and who knows absolutely NOTHING. No knowledge, what so ever. But I decided to look at it as an opportunity to teach her all the things I know; a limited range of sports facts, drinking games (admittedly not handy for a few years), where to find the best pizzas in London, and directions to places).

So, as a new dad, here are my top 10 tips so far for fathers about to embark on this wonderful, tiring, stressful yet rewarding journey:

1.       Your wife is a natural  mother and thinks of the baby first, so just do what she says. If she wants you to make a bottle for the baby, stay on target and make the bottle. Do not get distracted by washing up, getting other bottles ready, making yourself or her a drink, Sky Sports, going to the toilet, downloading the next episode of The Wire on Sky Go extra or Whatsapp. These can wait. Do it now. Trust me.

2.       If you get the baby out of her cot first thing in the morning, change her nappy. A simple rule, but one you will feel like an idiot for forgetting “have you changed her?” – “No, maybe I should” – “well, her nappy is fuller than the BFG at an all you can eat buffet, so, yeah, maybe you should”.

3.       You can try to find out what your baby wants by studying her like the Grand National Form book, or by listening to your wife. “She looks so tired! I am putting her down for a nap”.  The response here is “yes, I was thinking exactly the same thing” (whilst trying to work out how she looks tired, as she looks fine to you).

4.       Your little bundle of joy now is the boss. She dictates what you do. She may be a few hours, days, weeks, moths old, doesn’t matter, you now work for her. Your life revolves around her. So embrace it.

5.       Bottled formula milk smells terrible, but in a weird way you will get accustomed to it.

6.       You now sleep with some kind of lamp on, and will do so forever.

7.       Babies do so many farts, and produce so much wind, it’s ridiculous (and very amusing). Maybe it was the baby’s fault you wished for a gas mask for 9 months during the pregnancy.

8.       Know the limitations of your power. Your biggest strength is that you have arms and can carry stuff. Never ever overlook this, or think your remit goes beyond this. Your main job is to carry things to the car, back from the car, from one room to another. You are a carrier. This is what you do. Your mission is to get x amount of stuff (for 3 people this normally involves 5 – 7 bags full of various items, including the biggest bag containing your baby’s “stuff” – even though she is by far the smallest and her clothes use the least material) to a set location. This is where you can really go to town; go crazy! YOU get to control how you carry things and in what order. This is the one thing that is now in your control, so enjoy your freedom.

9.        If you think you are tired, your wife is more tired, so never complain or expect sympathy. This counts if you are ill, have a cold, you are stressed as the baby won’t stop crying or you are stressed about work. Whatever you think you feel, your wife will feel it more but generally not complain. So do not waste your time.

10.   Last, and my biggest tip of all. Never, ever, and I mean ever, come home, look around and say “what have you been doing all day?”. Golden rule number 1. And it sounds so simple! You will not always come home to a happy smiling baby, laughing wife, washing done, dinner made, house cleaned, so never expect it or wonder why. Soon you will have the baby on your own for a day, and if you manage to leave the house you have done well. Even if you didn’t mean it the way it came across, this one sentence is one you should never, ever say. Practice saying it now. Go to the mirror so you can see your lips move and hear the sentence out loud. You have proved you can say it. Now completely delete it from existence, because if you do say it, no matter how much you have followed rules 1 -9, I promise, you will regret it………..

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© gorillamums 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any material or media (including images) without express and written permission from this blog’s authors and/or owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to gorillamums with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

To swear or not to swear, that is the question

OK, I know what the right answer is – not to swear in front of your kids – but is it really? Am I a bad mother if I swear in front of them a little?
Mums I know have really strong opposing views on this topic. I know some mums who swear wild and free, their reason being that it’s who they are and it’s how they choose to express joy or rage or excitement and they teach their kids when it is (at home) and isn’t (at school/grandma’s/aunt Suzanne’s house) OK to say “the S word”.
Then there are the mums who mouth the word “crap” instead if saying it aloud (is crap even considered swearing anymore?), would never dream of uttering “the F word” and would be mortified if their child spilled their drink at dinner and said “oh bugger”. Their reasons are that they want their children to grow up with good manners and there are a myriad of alternate ways to express yourself than having to resort to swears.
Look, I see both points of view and I agree in part with both, but what am I personally going to do? I haven’t decided yet. The reason is that I grew up in a house where swearing was forbidden. We couldn’t even say “pooh head”. I called my mum a “silly billy” once and got sent to my room! Equally we were given detention for swearing in school; I once got 1000 lines of “look like a lady, speak like a lady” (oh so many things wrong with that line but we can discuss the misogyny of the British education system in the 1990s at a later date!) but my point is that I swear now. Yes I know it’s not “ladylike” but that’s kind of my point. Why should I not swear (but a man can)? If I drop a glass on the kitchen floor, in the heat of the moment will I really say “oh bother” or maybe “shhhhhhhhhugar”? Or will I say “oh shit!” like I did yesterday. I know when it’s OK to swear, I’d never do it in front of someone I knew hated it as I wouldn’t want to offend anyone, nor do I swear for no real reason (much).
I guess my conclusion is that I want to teach my kids about swearing the way I want to teach them about sex and drugs and alcohol – I want them to hear the real honest truth, from me, someone they trust and who has their best interests at heart. I don’t want to educate them in the way I was educated about those things I.e. “NEVER DO IT. End of discussion”. Because no one would talk to me about “forbidden things” I simply went out and learned about that stuff all by myself. I definitely want Serena to learn from me and for us to be able to have an honest enough relationship for her to be able to say anything to me.
Maybe even shit!

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© gorillamums 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any material or media (including images) without express and written permission from this blog’s authors and/or owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to gorillamums with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.