‘I’m… nearly Done’?!

Just a thought… when do you know if you’re not in love with someone anymore. Maybe you’ve outgrown them, argued, been annoyed by them, or maybe it’s just fizzled out. How do you know when it’s right to say ‘goodbye’💔

I feel like I love my partner, after 7 years together I know him inside out. We’ve had a shit year… in all honesty, a really shitty year. Our youngest son has just undergone surgery, which was tough on us- I felt like we were handling it ok, but lying here questioning my love and loyalty makes me reconsider those thoughts.

I felt like I carried him going through that trauma. I was there every step of the way with our baby, day and night. I can’t deny that he took time off work to be around… but he found comfort in diy jobs or gardening or walking the dog, rather than helping with awkward nappy changes, catheters, dressings, sleepless nights, crying from pain and sheer exhaustion (the baby). I feel resentful for that. I feel resentful that I feel resentful for doing my job as a mum, but I’m really pissed off that he wasn’t there as a support for me.

He’s been out ALOT since we got home. Waking up late for work, going out drinking, sitting home drinking… I can’t understand depression. That’s what he says is wrong, and he’s probably right. But how do you know when enough is enough. As a mother, and a person; I put myself 4th everyday after our kids and my partner, when is it ok to put me first? To have an hour to myself to have a bath, or have a hair cut or even buy a bra that doesn’t have the underwire hanging out of it?! I need to know that I’m not alone in the pitiful resentment- can things get better? Am I clouded by what I see wrong in him?! Because he’s currently lying next to me passed out from being out drinking and all I can think about is how I can explain to our kids in the morning why daddy won’t wake up 😢

Dark & Twisty

Motherhood in all it’s glory, can be… Quite a lonely place. 

My partner and I created two beautiful boys who we both love dearly- but I find myself day to day, questioning every move I make, how certain choices I make for them now, will shape them when they’re older, if they eat particular foods or have a bad day at school- will this effect them? 

Today, I was approached by my 3 year old’s playschool suggesting he needed a speech and language therapist. After last week having the health visitor come and give me advice on eating and sleep training for him, today’s revelation completely knocked my confidence as a parent. Do other parents feel this way when something is not quite going ‘right’ with their babies? Or am I in a dark and twisty place where everything feels like it’s my fault?

I’m not adverse to asking for help from professionals, in fact I welcome it in hopes of bettering myself as a parent for our boys. But sometimes asking for help makes you feel more defeated, like there is a shame or a taboo for putting your hands up and saying ‘hey, I don’t really know what I’m doing here!’.

I don’t understand how parents can go through life with their children and NOT question whether they are doing things the ‘right’ way. Obviously each parent has their own style and way of teaching their children, and j seem to have not quite found my groove with mine.

This has stemmed since having our second boy, Oliver- who has additional health needs, and my anxiousness and will to be the best mum I can has come from some inner lioness which instinctively wants to protect my young… Probably a bit too much.

The moral of the story is, every child is different, every parent is different, every day is different, and one rule or way of being one day, can differ to the next. Motherhood, in all it’s glory, is the most harrowing, anxious, fretful job I have ever undertaken. But also the most rewarding,  satisfying and fun job too. I guess I should take some of my own ‘advice’ about each day is different and try to learn by it. Things seem hard when you’re in a dark place. I hope I get ‘me’ back soon so I stop questioning my every move as a parent and enjoy my role to it’s fullest potential.

Postnatal Depression- Do I Have It?

Today I am sitting in the hospital canteen, waiting for my appointment with the hospital psychiatrist who sees us monthly after what happened with Oliver. Ed decided this morning to bow out so I’ve come on my own. His words were ‘I’ll stay at home and have Oliver so you can have a break’. (Harry at playgroup).

Driving here I felt tearful, fretful, resentful, angry, upset… For no apparent reason. I’m not one to talk face to face regarding my feelings; never have been. I would rather take myself off and have a little cry to myself, gather my thoughts and come back feeling a bit better.

Maybe today felt like relief? This is the first time in 5 months I have had neither of the children. 5 months of 2 little beings depending on me fully- and I think that feeling of resentment today was towards Ed, thinking he was heroic for having his own son for half a day when I do it all day everyday.

I think some men’s way of thinking is (if they have a stay at home partner, which technically I’m not yet as I’m on maternity leave!), that they go out and make be money, so when they come home they deserve to sit down and relax. I read an article recently regarding men’s views of stay at home mums, and the outcome was that most men said for example: my wife makes the tea in the evening because she doesn’t work, or my wife gets the kids ready for school in the morning and does the school run because she doesn’t work. 

I used to be one of these people… Thought stay at home mums were, in a sense, less superior to a woman who chooses to go back to work. But now, facing the harsh realities of staying at home with 2 young children, one of which needs additional support, I can’t believe I ever thought it!

This feeling of darkness that my ‘rational’ brain is trying to fight… Is this depression? Am I normal to feel like I never get a break or ‘me’ time? I often read that with depression, you don’t want to get out of bed for days at a time… I would quite gladly sleep for an eternity, but hen have an enormous amount of guilt for wishing that j didn’t have to do my ‘mum duties’.

I guess in a way it’s good I’m seeing the psychiatrist on my own and get some anger and resentment out, rather than keeping it in and letting it bubble until it boils over.

Realities of being a Step-Mum

From as long as I can remember in fairy tales, Disney films etc, Step-Mothers are always perceived as ‘evil’ and ‘wicked’ to their step-child. I’m sure Mollie often views me as this sometimes, and I suppose in reality, I can be.

Having a step-child doesn’t just mean you welcome another child into your life, you also have to welcome the ‘baggage’, often emotional, from the story behind it.

I have been in love with Ed since I was 11 years old, and he knew that when we were younger. We had a very turbulent relationship as I always wanted more than he was willing to give. During one of our ‘breaks’ when I was around 17, Ed met a girl called Emma. She was nice enough, but only 16- and very much looked like myself. It devastated me when he announced they were going to have a baby after only seeing each other for a couple of months. Ed and I, whether we have been in a relationship or not, have been the best of friends since we were 11 & 12. I readily welcomed Mollie when she was born and learnt to accept that Ed had moved on, and tried to do the same thing.

As a year went by and Mollie got a little bit older, Ed and Emma split and Ed and I gravitated towards each other once again. We have now been back together for 6 years with 2 beautiful boys of our own. Mollie is now 8.

For a long time, Ed, Emma, Ben (her now husband), and I, had an extremely rocky relationship. Score pointing and if I’m honest, Mollie in the middle of our childish hang ups. Now, 8 years on, Ed, Emma and I can communicate and get along well for Mollie.

Although this in itself brings out insecurities in my 16 years old self… Ed’s texting Emma, what’s he saying? What are they arranging that I haven’t been informed or had run past me? There isn’t jealousy in terms of being worried they would ever get back together. The jealousy is more about the fact that Ed has communication with someone near enough everyday that he chose over me all those years ago. It’s not something I can let go of, she got there first and had his baby that I had always wanted. This was heightened when Oliver was born because he didn’t turn out to be the girl we thought he would be.

These sorts of thoughts are not something I could tell Ed. He doesn’t understand it, he doesn’t have me talking to an ex-partner on a regular basis regarding a child that isn’t his, Mollie is his blood.

As it turns out, I do have a very close relationship with Mollie. I’ve always done her hair, help pick outfits, talk about feelings and emotions when she hasn’t quite understood something, helped with homework etc. I appreciate and respect our relationship as Step-Mum and Step-Daughter, and she is adored by her 2 brothers. Don’t get me wrong, I love Mollie- but it’s difficult to love a child that you didnt grow and give birth to, the way you did your own children.

Last week Mollie asked me to do a ‘face swap’ with me on my phone. When we looked at the pictures, I looked like her Mother. It terrified me so much and I panicked! I can’t help the feelings that I have towards Emma, she is married with another child and Ed and I have the boys together. However, as Mollie gets older and starts asking questions about her family and why her mum and dad aren’t together anymore, I feel insecure and annoyed with this innocent child for asking legitimate questions about her heritage?!

The truth is, having a Step-Child is making a choice to love another human that doesn’t belong to you but you choose to accept. The baggage surrounding this relationship isn’t about Mollie, it’s about our young selves and conquering feelings and emotions that probably weren’t addressed correctly when I was younger. 

This blog isn’t about telling the world that I hate my Step-Child, but merely to address in a very candid manner, that it’s not always easy to accept and bring up another persons child. I love our family as it is, but still have wobbles every now and then which I guess, is human?!

The Threenager Years

Today started well, it finished well In fact; but like a story, it had a beginning, middle & end. The middle part was the stinger today.

My partner and I braved a small amount of food shopping with 3 kids… On a Saturday… In Aldi where everyone in the entire universe seemed to go today!

Mollie (eldest), was pretty well behaved, but spent the entire time asking ridiculous questions such as, “would you rather be a parsnip or a carrot” and pretending to be a mini mother of Harry (3 year old). Oliver (baby) was asleep the entire shopping trip (thank the Lord!), but Harry… Dear, dear Harry, threw the most outrageous, spectacular Threenager strops I have (nearly) ever seen.

It began because he was whinging, Ed (partner) was looking at gardening bits and bobs while I was trying to meander my way through the shop with 3 baskets (because we forgot money for a trolley), a pushchair, and 2 mobile children. By the time we got to the check out, after getting some very sympathetic looks from other mums, some very judgemental looks from elderly people or professionals (you know the type, lone wandering man with greying hair, polo shirt on with the buttons undone so his chest hair all falls out), Harry was in complete beast mode because I wouldn’t buy him a chocolate bunny. No Harry you are not having a treat because you’ve not been nice round the shop… Well this was utter outrage to the already unhinged Threenager who then flipped on the floor In such a tantrum it felt like the whole shop stopped to watch and point and laugh.

By this point we hurriedly tried to get out the shop although the bags were too heavy for ed to carry and I had already walked out the automatic door. We then had to tag team for him to open the doors and me to grab a bag from him in time before it shut again… Harry at this point is screaming and lying face down on the floor.

Ed had to literally push him forward with his foot to move him aside from passers by who probably thought at this point we were the worst parents on earth. FINALLY in the car, ed and I have each other a fleeting grin and hug and vowed never to attempt that fiasco again on a weekend. Note to self: go food shopping when Harry and Mollie are at school, stick with one child.

Needless to say, the sticker chart was reintroduced tonight for dear Harry, and bedtime was a doddle… Don’t know why we hadn’t thought of this before…

Not too sure where to start with writing a ‘blog’ as such… somewhere to pen thoughts that i wouldn’t necessarily say out loud?

I’ll introduce myself: I’m Hannah, 26, 2 boys (3 year old and 5 month old), a step- daughter;Mollie, and partner of 6 years, Ed.

We live in a little bungalow in a little village with little/next to nothing in it- but I kind of like it that way. Our life has never been simple, or quiet as a matter of fact; our home is filled with laughter, bickering, crying, but most of all love.

I wanted to write a blog to talk about our son, Oliver (the 5 month old) and life in general as a Mum of 3 children.

Oliver didn’t have the easiest or simplest start to his little life, infant- it was pretty shitty. At our 20 week scan we were told we were having a girl; overjoyed as we already had a little boy together. We (I!), went out and bought A LOT of pink for our baby girl and were given bundles of clothes from various different friends and neighbours. By 6 months pregnant, I had already washed, ironed and put away all baby girl’s clothes into date order so we would be prepared for the coming months.

The ‘big day’ came and I went into labour… a very quick labour! The midwife knew there was meconium in my waters so a close eye was kept on the baby’s heart rate to make sure everything was ok. As she was born, paediatricians swooped in the give her an ‘extra hand’ in the breathing department. The two midwives looking after us said, “congratulations, you have a baby girl” – job done, so we thought.

The next day whilst waiting to be discharged from the hospital, a nurse came down to perform a newborn check on the baby- who we had named Charlotte Grace Astrid (Last Name). She asked me if Charlotte had ever been breach? No I thought, wondering why she would ask me this. Something wasn’t right here… she left and bought back with her a paediatrician and his registrar, who also questioned me about the baby- no one had actually told me what they thought might be wrong but at this point I was panicking. Ed was at home with Harry, waiting to drop him off at nursery before coming to pick his girls up. Next thing I knew, a midwife; Sally, from the transitional care unit, came to talk to me to tell me I was being moved over there with the baby. I was then called into a meeting with all the professionals to discuss the ‘issue’ with the baby.

Then the bomb was dropped… we’re not sure what sex your baby is, “it” has ambiguous genitalia. OH SHIT. What the hell does this mean? We don’t have our precious baby girl anymore, do we have a baby with male and female body parts?! I broke down, my world was crushed that we couldn’t take our precious baby home there and then. That’s where the fun began… (yes that was sarcasm).

We were discouraged from calling her ‘Charlotte’ and should refer to her as ‘baby’ rather than using a gender to identify her. We couldn’t help it though, we had named her, bought clothes for her… how did we now not do that?! My parents bought us a lot of white clothes to help out, it made it more comfortable as it was neutral, however inside, the both of us were in turmoil. The poor baby had tests done hourly, daily, over nightly, until the staff were happy that her general health was ok. We were in hospital (the baby and I) for a week, only apart for as much as 5 minutes when I could run to the shower or toilet. No fresh air or walking around all week, living out of a suitcase and eating hospital food – I mean, I know people have longer stints in hospital, but with the uncertainty of our baby’s future, this had to be my lowest point I had been through in my life.

I became tearful, miserable and didn’t really want to see or speak to anyone… but oddly craved for people to come and visit so I could have that small piece of home with me. Not being able to give your baby a name is the strangest feeling, and talking to other mums on the ward would be a confusing and slightly embarrassing situation too, as the first question people ask you is “what did you have?”.

We were eventually called into a meeting with the consultant who delivered us some mind boggling news- our baby had an XY chromosome make up, indicating we could have a boy… how the hell had this happened? After this, we were sent to a specialist hospital who were more equipped with this sort of ‘situation’. At this point, i had been away from Harry (3 year old) for over a week and hadn’t slept in my own bed with my partner for this amount time too. When we first got to the hospital, they didn’t have anywhere for us to stay together (Harry was at my parents and the baby had to stay in the neonatal ward). I  felt like if the final part of me was to be taken away, I wouldn’t be able to cope. They very kindly put us into a Ronald McDonald house where we could stay together and only be 5 minutes walk from the baby as parents are not allowed to stay on the ward.

The next week consisted of a lot more tests, a lot more meetings and a lot more consultants. By the end of the second week we were desperate for some news. We were assigned a psychiatrist as the concern was that the baby could have a compilation of male and female genetic make up, in simple terms… we as the baby’s parents would have to make a decision as to what gender to bring him/her up as.

Luckily we were called into a meeting where the Endocrine consultant told us that we (thankfully) had a little boy. They concluded that he had male internal structure, hormones and chromosomes. Results like this are not often as simple as our outcome, there are children with various different conditions, some of which dumbfound even the experts. After our meeting we went straight home where we could FINALLY re-start a normal life as a family of now 5! However, the trauma of the last couple of weeks hit me like a tonne of bricks when I got home. It felt at first, that we had lost a baby?! One day he was a girl, one day he was a boy… I couldn’t get my head around that. I became very jealous of Mollie (step-daughter) and the fact that I hadn’t been able to give Ed a little girl that we had both deeply wanted, which then led me to feel guilty as we had just bought home our perfectly healthy little boy! Going through clothes I had bought for ‘Charlotte’ was pretty traumatic… outfits I had planned for spring, summer, next winter even – a christmas dress for 2015; cards that had been sat by the front door with people’s well wishes, all with “congratulations it’s a girl” written on them.

I had already fallen in love with our baby, I don’t think it actually mattered to either of us now that we were home that we had another boy, I think it was more of having to watch our baby go through so much trauma in his short little life. Everyone kept telling me that he wouldn’t remember any of it, only we would… which is what, even now I get anxious about. Injections, blood work, ultra sounds, ambulances, heart monitors, consultants, infections… I couldn’t just forget about it. We gradually got in to the swing of having 3 children, the boys obviously living with us full time, and Oliver as he is now known, settled in to his new life at home very quickly. Infact, he is the calmest, sweetest baby I have ever encountered. His beautiful nature means that every morning when he wakes up chattering to himself, it puts a smile on my face.

Oliver is a special boy who has a life long condition. He will need to have operations in the future – to clarify, he never was a girl, he never had male & female parts, he has always been a boy. He falls under a huge category of DSD’s (Developmental Sexual Disorders), and in his case, things hadn’t quite developed properly. We still have an assigned psychiatrist who we see regularly, to make sure Ed and I are ok and coping. We have regular clinics with Endocrinologists, Urologists and in the future Geneticists. Oliver has already undergone hormone treatment to see how his body responds to certain hormones, whether he will have enough for puberty, and will have to have fertility treatment when he is older to see if he will be able to have his own children. We have no answers as to why this happened, and no definitive conclusion as to what his condition is.

I wanted to write this short entry (trust me, there has been 5 months worth of thoughts I could enter!) as I saw an interview with a Mother and Son on tv the other day… the son is transgender. The doctor sat next to them in the tv debate, suggested that gender issues were becoming fashionable these days, and the NHS should not fund these ‘fads’ where people decide one day they don’t want to be someone anymore. This infuriated me! Up until I had a child with a form of sexual disorder, I may have been of the same opinion… maybe not as severe as that, but none the less, did not understand it. Luckily for us, Oliver’s complications are not as severe as other children’s, teens or even grown adults. Caitlyn Jenner recently became transgender, and had been living in the wrong body for almost 60 years! Sexual Disorders are just as much important as treatment for cancer. Living in the wrong body could cause serious mental health issues…I have anxiety about how Oliver will cope with his condition as he gets older, when he hits puberty, when he becomes interested in girls, when he wants to have sex…and felt from that particular interview with that particular doctor, still, in this day and age, shows people’s limited views on something they do not understand.