Cazza Investigates: Motherhood today on my daughter’s 2nd birthday.
Seemed a good time to share my experience on motherhood on Gloria's birthday, it’s been an epic adventure ! I cover everything in this post, including my advice on being a stepmum to teenagers.
One could make a blog out of mumming in Brighton.
Motherhood is a major part of my life, currently 9 hours of the day, most days.
This post includes:
-My advice about being a stepmum.
-Top 5 pregnancy exercise dvds.
-A list of tried and tested best pregnancy things to do in Brighton, Hove and Lewes.
-My birth story, with all the gory details and I share the ugliest of the ugly photos.
-Did I manage to visualise a great birth and go drug free?
-Did I really smoothie my placenta?
-My Top 5 baby books, to get you through the first year of confusion and feeling totally out of your depth.
-A bit of breastfeeding.
-Full time mumming in Brighton.
-Top 5 best singing dancing playgroups in Brighton.
-Top 5 best playparks in Brighton.
-Top 5 books and authors. I read lots of children's books everyday.
-What voice do you read The Tiger in The Tiger Came to Tea?
-How I'm so very thankful for the 3 hour nap, my caz time, when I can be creative and write this blog.
-My advice on being a mum, why your best is always good enough.
Pre 38 self
I never thought I wanted to be a mum, too selfish and love sleep.
I wanted to be free and have fun.
I never felt ready.
I was scared of the responsibility.
Being a Stepmum
I became a stepmother in 2008. I’d tried out the term ‘other mother’ for a while. I could never replace the boys lovely mum, I’m more like a bossy friend.
So I joke, 'wicked stepmother', as I can be great, funny, caring, inspiring. On the flipside, I can fly into a rage a teenage ways. I can be strict and sometimes moody and get easily annoyed. I hope I’m never unfairly ‘mean’, there’s always a good reason. (Just put the cereal back in the cupboard and empty the dishwasher once in a while!!!)
They are great guys, I love my chaps.
Advice about Teenagers
Patience and understanding, teenage years are only a phase. If that fails, punching a pillow and reading and applying a few books.
Teenager advice books
-Whatever by Gill Hines and Alison Baverstock had some interesting points about boundaries and respect for the teen and others.
-The Teenage Brain by Dr. Frances E Jansen is fascinating. Teenagers cannot help their behaviour, it’s their brains working in ways that’s so confusing to them and everyone. Try and think back to your teen years and remember what it was like.
-Calmer Happier Parenting by Noel Janis- Norton has an interesting approach to parenting. Her ‘Revolutionary Programme that transforms family life’ by using strategies to get your children to listen and do what you want the first time you ask. I applied this to the boys and it worked. One has to use a different language and is difficult to get the hang off and feels a bit fake. ‘Thank you for doing your own washing, that’s a really big help around the house and shows your responsible.’ It’s quite wordy. I will be reading again, the book helps 3-13 year olds.
In my late thirties on the back of a motorbike traveling round the UK it became very apparent to me I really wanted a baby, after years of thinking no. Must have been my biological clock ticking loudly in my ear for two weeks. There’s a lot of time to think when you are a pillion passenger. I thought, what am I going to do with my life? I didn’t want to wake up at fifty and think why didn’t I try harder; you are married to an amazing man, you’d be mad not to have a baby.’ It felt like life was meant to be with the ultimate cazza creation. It took another year to become pregnant. My advice; know when you ovulate, keep a diary and relax.
I was lucky I had an easy pregnancy.
-The first 3 months, when I was ‘On a Detox’ and couldn’t tell anyone. I started writing a diary, to give to the baby one day…
- I became really fat and my skin freaked out. I had sore scaly puss spots all over my chin with dry flakey patches. So bad my friend suggested seeing an emergency doctor. It was my hormones and only Vaseline could calm the inflammation.
-I had lots of aches and tried to exercise them away with a couple dvd’s.
Top 5 pregnancy exercise dvd
1. 10 Minute Solutions, prenatal pilates 10 minute workouts in a pilates style. The streach alone is worth the dvd. It feels so nice, when everything aches.
2. Complete Pregnancy Fitness with Erin O'Brien Erin's sweet stretch in this quite aerobic workout. It's good if you want to keep your fitness levels up whilst pregnant. Not too tricky.
3. Pregnancy Yoga with Tara Lee A gentle breathing, yoga stretch. Very slow and seemed like a lot of time was needed.
4. Pregnancy Workout Lean and Toned I have to be hinest, I haven'y done this video but get loads of great review. I could of done a Top 4 but just to keep in line...
5. Tracy Anderson Method Pregnancy I was a fan of Tracey Anderson, but her exercises take ages and are quite boring. During this dvd, Tracy pouts at the camera with a low cut top on whilst performing the moves and a bit off putting when she's heavily pregnant. The set is so over the top in a hotel suite with twee baby stuff, it's was too sugary and boring. There are 9 workouts for each month, I think I got to month two. I keep the window open with the box set sometimes, it's handy for that.
Pregnancy aids and all my recommends;
Lush Tums baby yoga Brighton, Muma Baby Sanctuary Lewes, Dr Gowri London, BabyCenter Everywhere, Home Birth Brighton, Homepathy Brighton, Acupunture Brighton, Nishat Curry Brighton.
-Lush Tums is A weekly baby yoga, a perfect stretch and learning the art of deep breathing. Clare came to our house for a 1to1. Talking through the birth and ways to cope with the pain. I really loved the weekly classes, they were so relaxing and made a lovely mama friend.
Muma Baby Sanctuary in Lewes-A friend and I had a lovely day out at . Yoga in the morning, then massage, lunch and a workshop with the lovely Samsara who runs this little haven. She runs pregnancy workshops, is a doula, a placenta encapsulator and mother to 4 brilliant children.
-I tried to stay calm, read and applied and listened everyday to the cd about hypnobirthing and visualisation.-I tried to stay calm, read and applied Dr Gowri, The Gentle Birth. I tried to follow her excellent advice. I did pig out on biscuits, cakes and quorn sausages. I brought and used the special massage oil and listened everyday to the cd about visualisation.
- I love BabyCentre with a wealth of information and answers all questions, giving sound advice.
-We attended the home birth meeting with lots of advice and experienced parents, making the decision for a home birth easy. I wanted to feel safe and comfortable and relaxed at home in a dark chamber with no outside fuss to distract me from my visualisation.
- I went to a homeopath for the first time. We had a nice chat and he gave me a little yellow box of tiny tubes with various white pills to take at various times during labour. I wasn’t sure I would use any.
-When 6 days passed by due date I booked in to see Soreh for acupuncture, another first. I didn’t want to be induced; I didn’t want any drugs and thought it would be worth a try. Soreh was amazing, kind and gentle, sticking in pins and put a couple of metal dots in my ears on pressure points to relieve pain when pressed. She gave me a lovely route home down leafy back streets, the sun was shining.
-We ordered a curry; just as the food arrived…
The pains started quite slowly and gently, a deep cramp at the base of the bump, for an hour they were about 20 mins apart. I sat in the living room on a birth ball watching Rolling Stones at Hyde Park on the telly, bouncing in time to the music, whilst one of my stepsons wrote down the timings of my contractions. My husband was downstairs prepping the room; cushions, low lights, 6 hour playlist, he had complied over months.
At about 11pm the pain was every few minutes and getting more intense. I breathed through each pain that lasted a couple of minutes.
Midnight, I needed the dark calm space, we went downstairs and called the midwife, she arrived with a trainee at 1am.
The contractions were coming at speed and the pain! The deep pain in my back hits hard and about 4 breathes and it subsides. Back massage whilst bent double with my head in husbands stomach, my thumbs in his belt loops, I swayed to the music breathing in deeply and ooooo ing out. Pressing the metal points in my ears really hard. This went on for hours, each serge I’d move my hips to the music. Deep in breathe, long oooooooooout, imagining opening opening opening. The pain was extreme, never before felt and hard to remember now, thank goodness!
I barely noticed the midwives; they were quiet in the corner. I was in the zone, at 4am a 3rd midwife arrived and everything slowed down. I was ready to push but the contractions almost stopped. I got a bit freaked out as my waters hadn’t broken but the sack had appeared, just dangling there, urgh! The homeopathic box was reached for and a dot administered, the slowness continued, I felt weak and quite teary. An offer of some gas, which I turned down. I was determined to have a drug free birth, absolute mind over matter. If I could do this, I can do anything. I pushed for hours, trying so hard with the burning intense pain, it was exhausting.
The dawn was breaking and what seemed like two randoms walked into the room. They were new midwives to relieve the 3 whose shift finished at 8am. The new two were quite funny and fresh words of encouragement, a new position. And as the night 3 put on their coats, saying ‘we really want to meet your baby’ a few big enormous huge pushes and ping, splash, the waters broke as baby was born! 7.57am, with 5 midwives present and daddy. Dazed and bewildered husband asks ‘What is he?’ (We were convinced we were having a boy, we didn’t find out) The midwives laugh and say ‘He’s a she!’ We had a little girl! My heart exploded with love for this little lady, looking like a blood covered creature. She feed straight away with a brilliant lesson from the midwife. I was over pushing and my placenta needed to be delivered, as it was being collected imminently...
Childbirth is not glamorous. I share with you here, our post birth photo, a beautiful moment with the ugliest of ugly photos.
Everyone’s birth story is different as the child entering the world, one by one. Birth’s rarely go to plan; don’t panic, stay calm and remember women have been giving birth for forever, it’s totally natural, although it definitely doesn’t feel like it.
My friend and I decided to consume our placentas after our visit to the Muma Baby Sanctuary. We’d heard it was good for you and would beat postnatal depression and if kept, great for menopause. My placenta lady was popping over soon after the birth to whizz up a raw smoothie and taking 2/3rds to be made into capsules. The smoothie was a delicious and fruity, I tried not to think about the raw organ. I was much more worried that I would have to stay over in hospital.
Post birth hospital visit
Our baby had entered the world with her fist to her face, so no wonder she took ages to finally make an appearance. The special massage didn’t work, after a torch inspection, 'downstairs' the midwife needed a doctors opinion so I was to take an over night bag, incase I needed surgery. I did not want to stay in hospital, the Eurovision song contest was on that evening and I wanted to be at home. We were whisked away in an ambulance and taken to a quiet room. The hospital visit was short, thank goodness. I got on the gas and tried not to shake as the midwife stitched me up. Makes me feel a bit sick, just thinking about it. All good now, just in case you're wondering, the human body is a wonderful thing.
I was taught straight away from the midwife to breastfeed but I still had problems. The let down hurts so much at the beginning and I tried to phone a helpline, no answer. Seek advice if difficult, ride through that pain barrier as breastfeeding is so easy. Lanolin cream saved a lot of soreness.
It probably wasn’t very wise to take a 7 week old baby to Glastonbury Festival. A 3 hour car journey started blocking my milk paths and lead painful feeding and massage to relive the blockage. On site on Friday watching Arcade Fire, I started to feel, hot, sweaty and shaky. My boobs where burning with pain. I struggled back to the car, parked high on the hill, projectile vomited and cried for hours whilst trying again to relieve the blockages. Mastitis hits you quickly with flu like symptoms and boobs that feel like they will explode.
I really shouldn’t of gone back on site for Saturday as that evening I ran a high temperature and fevered through the night. My sister in law suggested going to A&E on Sunday to get some antibiotics. I wanted to see Dolly Parton and I so glad I made the right decision, Dolly’s performance is in my Top 5 Glastonbury moments, to date, scheduled for June 17. Next months Top 5 is Secrets to a Happy Marriage, June is anniversary month.
I went to the doctors on the Monday and all was good.
I am so happy I breastfed GG for 8 months. I stopped on New Years Eve 14. Remember to drink lots of water and relax. I watched the whole of Orange is the New Black.
Nothing prepares you for the lack of sleep and what it does to your brain and well being. High emotions, irrational thought, dizziness in the street, thinking it might be labyrinthitis; no it was exhaustion, lack of sleep and dehydration. Try and sleep when your baby sleeps, is my best advice. Not so easy if you have other children.
I was recommended ‘Save Our Sleep' by Tizzie Hall, from Erol Alkan. He couldn’t recommend it highly enough. There’s mixed reviews on Amazon and I understand why. Whilst her advice worked wonders for Baby G. A regime of morning and afternoon naps and a bedtime routine. Letting the baby self settle, basically controlled crying. It does work, feels horrible to start with but when you feel so much better for getting some sleep. Although I do have a problem with Tizzie’s advice. Night Feeds ‘feed your baby when they wake at night’ GG woke every couple of hours and fed more at night than day. She started out in an attachable cot to the bed, after 5 months she went to her own room and that when her sleeping improved. The first night and almost all of them since she has slept for 12 a night and now has an afternoon nap for 3 hours, my caz time.
I brought a lot of baby books to see me through the first year, especially the first few months, where everything is new and strange and emotional.
My Top 5 baby books
1. Tizzie Hall’s Save Our Sleep despite the night feeds part and very difficult to leave a baby to cry while your still in the same room.
2. First Time Parent Lucy Atkins. An easy to follow guide to the first year with lovely photos and tons of tips.
3. Baby Calm A guide for Calmer babies and happier parents Sarah Ockwell Smith Capters titles, Trusting your maternal instinct, A toolbox of calming techniques, Understanding normal baby sleep. All good advice on keeping calm.
4. Your baby week by week Simone Cave and Dr Caroline Fertleman. A weekly guide to see how your baby is developing and preparing you for the next phase.
5. Gentle First Year Dr Gowri Motha has written some good advice on massage, visualization, diet and supplements. I didn’t follow too much of her advice. Cakes and sugar in the afternoon where essential.
Books I didn’t like Secrets of the Baby Whisper by Tracy Hogg, her advice did not work for us, made GG and myself very anxious and upset. Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems Dr Richard Ferber, is very wordy and I didn’t really read. I was tired!
Full time mumming
I wanted to be a full time mum and was fortunate enough to be able to stop working. I love my Gloria, my GG, gorgeous girl, glorious Gloria, Gloria the genius. Her first words 'What is it?' in a deep devil voice at 4 months. Is it normal for a 20 month old to know dog breeds and at 22 months know the ABC circus and ABC Dr Seuss off by heart? She is bi lingual, bonjour, merci, ca va? She is so chatting and asks 'What's that?' at everything. We read a lot, no screens during the week. Constant talking, singing and sticker books; 1001 Animals, 1001 fun learning and Stickerpedia, have really helped her vocabulary.
Top 5 toddler books
1. Dr Seuss, The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, Oh! The Places you’ll go.
2. Quentin Blake, Mister Magnolia, Patrick, actually all of them.
3. Moonin books
4. Eric Carle, Slowly slowly slowly, Monkey Monkey what do you see?, The Hungry Caterpillar.
5. A Cat Called Panda, Melanie Arora.
It was important to me to keep GG near in the early months and I wanted to be streamlined when out and about. We borrowed a Baby Bjorn for the early months. We brought the Baby Bjorn One, which will work from birth to 18 months. I didn't get on with the jersey wraps.
Our daily routine in Brighton
We now have a groove, a routine that works for us both.
-GG wakes around 7am says ‘everyone hungry’ and we feed her toys breakfast.
-Then our breakfast, GG a bottle of milk and a bowl of shreddies and milk.
-Followed by playing, play dough, painting, singing, dancing, reading.
-We get ready to go out, I shower she plays in her room. I get dressed and dance around. She plays in our room ‘climbing on the bed’ and goes thorough every draw pulling everything out, unscrewing lids off pots, piling pots up high, climbing on the shoe rack, basically destroying the room.
-We always go out in the morning either to a playgroup, singing, dancing group or park.
Top 5 play groups, singing and dancing groups in Brighton
2. Tiny Tempo
Top 5 play parks in Brighton
1. The Level
5. Preston Park
-Lunch at noon. Salad, houmous, picnic egg, quorn sausage, eggs, yoghurt.
-Followed by playing, play dough, painting, singing, dancing, reading.
-5pm dinner: pasta, eggs, salad, green beans... Please can you tell me if there is an amazing blog that has 10 minute recipes for toddlers, I need it.
-Followed by playing, play dough, painting, singing, dancing, reading.
-6.30pm Bath & Books
-7pm Bed, sing ‘Close your eyes and go to sleep, I love you’ to Brahms Lullaby and the classic Twinkle twinkle little star.
Repeat every weekday.
Weekends, Gloria’s has jam on toast for breakfast and watches a film, The Little Mermaid is a favourite. She has lots of daddy time.
Gloria loves swimming, has attending Water Babies since 8 months and can swim a whole length on a noodle on her own and is fearless at jumping in.
Top 5 favourite animals
Currently her favourite colour is purple. She only really wants to wear purple and goes everywhere with her ‘purple’ blanket. We spot purple everywhere. I make sure we walk passed all the purple doors in Brighton, it brings such joy. As the new purple scooter, purple sunglasses and will she like her new pinky purple glitter GG Gucci shoes?? Watch Instagram today to be revealed… (yes ridiculous present for a 2 year old, they are an investment piece in my size, they will be mine in 15 years time…) Update! She refused to wear the Gucci shoes saying 'Too big Mama!' She has a point.
Love, fun, patience and calm.
I believe the language used with a child makes a big difference. Dr Carol Dweck, an American educationist explains fixed and growth learning in this great animation. Her book Mindset is an excellent read also.
I love 'Asked and Answered' to stop a whinging child. A child asked fro something, you say no and explain why. They ask again and you say 'I said no, next time you ask I will say Asked and answered' If they ask again, 'You've asked and I answered and what did I say?' And if the persist just say 'Asked and answered. They soon get bored and more on to something more interesting. This method works a wonder, give it a try and let me know your results.
I always say ' Be careful' over 'You'll fall' I try not to use negative words, although it's very hard not to say 'NO' and 'Stop it' sometimes.
I refuse to be a worry mother. I grew up with one and although the worry was with absolute love and caring, it made me shy, anxious and nervous. I want Gloria to be brave and bold and conquer anything she wants. I learnt a lot from my adoring mother and to know you are loved absolutely does give you confidence in life. I tell Gloria constantly I love you and smoother her in kisses, she's not very cuddly.
Mothering can be difficult and patience and calm are hard to keep. These are small flashes of temper on both sides and soon are over and we move one.
I am very proud of my Gloria as any mother should be of their little darling.
I’m so very thankful to Gloria, my husband, boys, family and friends for all their love and support. I love GG’s 3 hour afternoon nap where I can write and research cazza.com. All mums need something for themselves. Loving and nurturing a child is very important, never forget to love and nurture yourself.
Never worry and trust your instincts and keep a positive outlook on everything and have fun on this crazy rollercoaster adventure, motherhood. Remember there's no perfect mother, all we can do is try our best.
Thank you for reading my post about Motherhood.
Please share your thoughts, top tips and love.
Love love love,
Mama, Mummy, Cxxxx