A blogging hiatus – but I’m back!

blogging resources

You may have noticed that I’ve not been here for a while. I ended up taking a little (big?) blogging hiatus after my last post about consent and the reactions to it.

People were sending me messages on Twitter after someone linked my post and mocked it.

Now there’s plenty that I don’t agree with on the internet, and I’ll be the first to say that a blanket policy of “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” is pretty dangerous.

But really, what is the benefit of sending a bunch of trolls over to a mum who’s just doing her best? Everyone seemed to agree that I wasn’t doing anything harmful to my daughter, just that they found my actions laughable. (But I stand by what I said!)

People messaged me to say that my daughter was going to grow up weak and coddled. They said that my parenting was the problem with the world today, that I was a neglectful parent, that I shouldn’t be in sole charge of my child. Someone, rather bizarrely, said that she couldn’t take what I said seriously as I listed my rabbits in my Twitter bio before my human daughter.

My phone buzzed with cruel and unnecessary comments for about 48 hours.

I’m going to be honest. I was really upset by it. The “texting my husband at work and crying” sort of upset. So I thought it was time to take a little blogging hiatus.

It was less of a rational, conscious decision and more of a thing that just happened. I couldn’t face social media or writing.

And maybe I should be more thick skinned. Maybe I should learn to let these things roll off me.

But maybe other people should learn to think before they speak, as well. Is what you’re saying useful?

There is someone behind every keyboard.

I wasn’t saying anything harmful. Did it need 20 different people to repeatedly mock me?

I’m a first time mum. Like most first time mums these days, I’m pretty isolated. My husband is at work full time, I see my own mum quite often but not every day, I don’t have many local friends… The internet really is my social outlet. My daughter is amazing, and does say a few words, but she’s not yet much of a conversationalist.

So when I get social interaction from 20 people in a day and 19 of them are really negative, that’s pretty rough.

The bad comments just kept coming throughout the day and I felt almost intimidated. Some people seemed so angry at me, and it occurred to me that they might actually go ahead with making their dangerous allegations of neglect. I was scared. (My baby really is not neglected. Sometimes I am, but she’s not!)

I’m further out from the birth now, but this was a few months ago. My hormones were, I’m afraid, going a bit mad. My cycles were starting to come back (at least breastfeeding kept them away until she was about seven months!) and I was feeling easily as blue as in the very first couple of days.

I was really fragile, to be honest. I hate to play the “hormonal woman” card, but it’s true. Maybe, in retrospect, I should have spoken to a doctor about postnatal depression. It’s easy to be wise after the event.

So, yeah, I felt bad. I felt like something relatively non controversial had been turned into this awful storm. I just wanted to hide.

Back from my blogging hiatus

But I’m back. I missed writing. I missed the people! Blogging was an amazing outlet for me during pregnancy and my baby’s early days, and even though I struggle to find any extra time these days, I’d like to do a bit here and there again.

Have you ever had a similar experience? How did you get over it?

Consent, babies and nappies, oh my!

consent

You might have read the article that’s going round lately. You know, that one about babies and consent.

This is a nice, even-handed view of it, but many papers and websites aren’t quite being so nice. I’m finding a lot of the comments about it to be quite upsetting.

Maybe you saw it when someone shared it on Facebook, along with a witty comment like “PC gone mad, I’m glad all this crazy stuff wasn’t a thing when I had my children!” Or maybe it was the punchline on your local news, or you heard someone laughing about it in the shop.

Well, it’s not funny.

My daughter is six months old. And yes, I ask for her “consent” before doing anything to or with her. No “expert” told me to. I just do it because she’s a human being and she deserves that level of dignity.

Let’s make this clear.

How it does not look

“Baby, it’s time for a nappy change. Do you consent?”

“No, Mummy.”

“Okay then, we’ll leave you in your dirty nappy.”

“Thank you, Mummy. Now let us continue destroying society with our crazy liberal ways!”

How it actually looks

“Nappy change time! Want a nice clean nappy-noo?”

“Yaaaaabahhhh! Aieeeee! Flurg.”

“Okay then, let’s get this old nappy off. And iiiiin the nappy bin it goes! Now we’ll give you a little wipe. And now a nice clean nappy!”

“Maaaaaa. Yaaa.”

“All done! Here’s Sophie the Giraffe!”

I’ll let you work out which person is which!

I usually do the sign for “nappy” as well, which we’ve learned in our Sing and Sign class.

So that’s how our “consent” looks. Does anyone object to that?

I narrate and explain everything we do throughout the day. She gets to hear my thought process as I choose her outfit for the day, as I dress her, as I put her in the car seat… It goes on.

And it’s not just the things that pertain to her. I keep up a running commentary of unloading the dishwasher, hanging the washing on the line, the traffic we see on our walks, everything. She’ll probably learn to speak early just to tell me to be quiet!

Just to be clear on this: baby Yaya does not have the option of refusing a nappy change, but I want her to understand what’s happening.

Consent in the future

I might be unusual (I know some people think I am) in that I refuse to change her nappy in front of a group of people. She is a person and deserves dignity. I wouldn’t take my pants off in front of a large group of grandparents, uncles, etc., so why do people expect me to remove Yaya’s?

It all comes down to her bodily autonomy and dignity. People who are mocking the idea of consent, I assume, believe that their babies don’t have that or deserve it. (Let that sink in for a moment. Ouch.)

But at what point does it develop? Teenagers and adults, everyone agrees, can and should say no when they feel uncomfortable. But small children can be abused too, and have the right to speak up and understand when things are wrong.

I want Yaya to be able to refuse touch from anyone. It’s one reason that we’re learning signing. I want her to be able to communicate NO to hugs and kisses, even from family and friends.

(I’m not saying that I’d let her be rude about refusing a hug or a kiss. I don’t want her to run from Nice Safe Family Member, but if she doesn’t want to hug him, it’s fine for her just to say hi. There’s a middle ground.)

Because the moment you force a child to be touched and accept physical affection they don’t want, you’re teaching them a costly lesson. You’re teaching your child that sometimes, you have to be quiet and let someone touch you. That people who are older/in a position of power/your relatives (delete as appropriate) have the right to touch you. And there’s nothing you can say or do about it.

Is that really what you want?

 

Our last few days in the bedside cot

bedside cot

My lovely baby,

We’re probably coming to the end of your time in the bedside cot.

I don’t want to believe it, because to me you’re still so tiny. But in reality you’re six months old, rolling all over the place and trying to take on the world.

And soon you’ll be too big for the little bed you’ve slept in for your whole life.

(We have a Knuma Huddle. It’s amazing.)

You have a big cot waiting patiently for you. It’s that place we go and play sometimes, usually after nappy changes when you’re all happy and relaxed. Because I want you to have positive associations with the big cot and feel comfortable sleeping there.

But oh, my little girl, I am going to miss you in the night.

I love the moments before sleep, where we cuddle and I feed you until you doze off. Finally, you loosen your grip on me as your head lolls sleepily backwards. I roll my vest back up and think of depositing you straight into the bedside cot – and then, invariably, I don’t.

I usually cuddle you for a good five or ten minutes after you’ve dropped off to sleep. In these days where you’re on the go all the time, having these sleepy moments feels like a gift, a window back in time to my little newborn girl. You’re so warm, so cuddly, so mine.

It’s like every night is a sleepover. Daddy is mostly sleeping in the other room so his snoring doesn’t disturb you (or me!), and it’s just us girls.

In the middle of the night, sometimes you wake me up just to talk. It’s better than any girly sleepover I ever had as a teenager. We giggle and have so much fun. In the middle of the night, it’s just you and me, my baby. The rest of the world could have vanished, for all we know.

I love the convenience of the bedside cot too. Not having to get up when you need me in the night is amazing. It’s brilliant that I can just roll over, grab my glasses, tie my hair up, put a cardigan on, pull the side of your little cot down and you’re there. Grinning and kicking and excited to see me. Because you’re my favourite person in the world and I’d like to think that you feel the same.

So, while I’m glad that you’re growing and gaining new skills, I’m going to miss the days of you, me and the bedside cot.

I love you.

Your Mummy

Coping without Gingee Bunny

Gingee

Dear Gingee,

It’s now been a few weeks since you left us. It’s still hard to believe.

We’re doing okay, though. Thanks for asking. There’s been a few sessions of crying in the shower (me), standing outside at the grave (Daddy), searching all over the house (Ned), refusing to believe it (Barbara) and just being a bit confused (the baby).

The day after you died, it snowed. It took everything I had not to go out there and start digging. I couldn’t bear the thought of you being out there, all alone and cold. You, my boy who used to cuddle up with me under a blanket when Daddy was out in the evenings.

We had a cushion printed with your picture on it, and we’ve put it by the TV, where you always used to try and climb. It’s nice to see you in the living room all the time, because that’s where I spend most of my time with the baby.

Your baby sister is getting so active lately. You’d love her, Gingee. She rolls all over the place now – she reminds me of you, so much, when you wanted to get somewhere that we’d blocked off. You were so determined and so is she.

More than the other two, you really connected with her when she was tiny, and I’m so sorry you won’t be there to play with her now she’s more interactive.

You’ve loved her since the start – I remember when you used to sit on my lap and lift your ear against my belly. Did you know she was in there? Could you hear her?

Did you know you wouldn’t be here to see her grow up?

Ned is doing really well. His eye is healthy – I think Barbara is taking care of it for you. He binkies a bit now again. I think he wants to show me that he’s alright. Barbara’s eye needs some work, and Daddy has had to start doing a lot more for her. I didn’t realise how much you did, Gingee. You were their vet as well as their brother, weren’t you?

I make sure that I spend lots of time with them and talk about you to them.

I promise that I’ll spend lots of time outside in the garden with you this spring and summer. Daddy’s already been doing that, do you know?

It’s Easter today, and we’ve told the baby that you’re the Easter Bunny now. I think you’d like that – although I know in reality you’d just want to eat all the chocolate yourself! Remember how you ate some of my Easter egg last year when I was feeling ill?

I also remember the Easter before, when you and Ned had a little truce. It felt like an Easter miracle (a more minor one, obviously!).

I have lots of questions about what happened to you. Why did you suddenly choke like that? Why couldn’t you eat after that?

Did you have some sort of tumour or growth in your throat that we didn’t know about? Were you as sick as your brother all along? Is there anything we could have done?

But honestly, my Gingee, if you had been sick, I’m glad we didn’t know. I’m glad we didn’t have to make any decisions about whether to do any invasive treatment that would have made you more frail, because I know you. You would have hated being weak and in pain.

Better one crowded hour, Gingee. You had such a crowded hour. You did so much and were so happy.

I miss you, Gingee.

Love,

Your human mummy.

So what do you do all day?

what do you do all day?

For some reason, the question “So what do you do all day?” comes up sometimes. Mostly when talking to people who don’t have children, of course!

Fear not, my days are very busy. I’ve had this post half-written for days, for example! I’m finally getting it done while she plays in the gym and I try and ignore the fact that I need to do laundry and every room in the house is a mess. (Because I too was once naive like that, I thought that my house would be really tidy while I was on maternity leave. Ha.)

What do you do all day?

All times are approximate, of course! But this is a general guide to how our days go.

6am: Baby wakes up. We have a cuddle and a feed in bed. She usually feeds for an hour or so at this time of day, and she might doze a bit while she does.

7-7.30am: We go downstairs. She gets a nappy change and gets dressed, and my husband is on baby duty while I have breakfast and get myself dressed. Then he heads off to get dressed and go to work, and she has a little play in her baby gym while I quickly throw some washing in the machine or unload the dishwasher. I feed Ned and Barbara at this point as well – lesson learnt from days when it’s been midday before Yaya has let me go!

8.30am: Time for second breakfast! We set ourselves up in our Ikea chair and I have a snack and a drink while she feeds. Sometimes she’ll doze off while we do this. If I desperately need to do something and am very lucky, I can transfer her from my arms, but often I just cuddle her.

10am: After her feed, she usually wants to stretch out on the floor for a bit, so I pop her back in the play gym, or on a blanket on the floor. She plays for a bit – maybe in the gym or perhaps fighting her toy lion. She’s an excellent lion fighter!

10.30am: If we’re going out or need to do anything, this is usually when we do it. Either we go to our baby sing and sign class, or to the shops, or to visit Nana and Pops. If we’re staying in, I’ll put her in her bouncy chair and we’ll go through to the kitchen where we’ll empty the dishwasher or hang up some laundry, and then we’ll have a play until lunch.

12pm: We usually have another little feed. If I time this well, I can get her satisfied and happy so that she’ll doze while I eat my lunch!

1pm: Mummy’s lunchtime! I try and have a hot lunch most days, but nothing complex. I usually have a samosa or something similar – something that stays warm and that I can eat one-handed if necessary!

2pm: We might go for a walk, or take a trip out to Sainsbury’s if she’s getting antsy. Sometimes we play with the rabbits, or I’ll get out some bubble mixture or extra toys.

3pm: More feeding! When it gets to late afternoon, I like to close the blinds and light a couple of candles to make it all cosy. We cuddle in the chair and watch TV while we feed for a couple of hours at this point. We often get into a nice feeding-and-napping cycle here, where she dozes and wakes up to feed a bit more.

5pm: We have a sing and a dance to get into a good mood for when Daddy gets home! I try and pick up some of the detritus of the day as well so that it doesn’t look so chaotic when he gets home.

5.30pm: Daddy gets home, and he’s on duty for most of the evening. During that time, he does some bottle feeds (we combination feed). Some nights there may also be a bath for Yaya!

6.30pm: I give Ned and Barbara their tea and play with them while Daddy and Yaya have some alone time. I really value the time I get with my bunny babies.

7pm: I get dinner ready and we eat while watching TV, with Yaya sleeping on Daddy’s lap.

9pm: I go for a shower while Daddy changes Yaya and puts her in her sleepsack.

9.30pm: Yaya and I cuddle in bed and have a last feed, and then when she’s done I caaaaaarefully transfer her into her bed, and drop off to sleep myself.

So, what do I do all day? Lots! I love my days. I’m so, so lucky.