So, when are you having your second baby?

This question can be asked in a few different ways – “When are you having your next one?” or “When do you think you’ll start trying for another baby?” or the very straight forward “Do you want anymore children?

I think every mother (and father) has been asked this question at some point. Whether you only have one child currently, or were asked it years ago when you used to have one child. Some of us get asked this question very quickly after we have had our first child, some get asked months down the track. I was asked when I was planning to have another baby when Jonah was about 2 weeks old! I thought to myself “WOW they are asking me this soon? I haven’t even physically healed yet!!”

Two weeks post partum I was in the midst of feeling very overwhelmed (and honestly not entirely in a good way) at a great number of things. At physically giving birth, letting it sink in that I was a mother to a tiny baby and being completely depended on, my milk coming in, healing from a vaginal birth, waking in the night to feed and no longer being able to get 10 hours sleep………..the list goes on. Jonah was an easy baby but that didn’t mean I didn’t have to adjust – not only as a mother, but transition into being parents together with my husband.

My first thoughts on the whole subject of having a second baby was that there was no way I wanted to go through childbirth again. I had 16 hour labor with Jonah and it was quite difficult. Although the end result was what I prayed for and was relieved about – I still found it to be the most painful experience I have ever been through. I think there is a fear of the unknown when you are pregnant for the first time. Before you experience labor you are a bit scared as you don’t know what to expect or how it will feel. This unknown territory is actually a twisted kind of positive. See now that I have been through it I KNOW what to expect next time. I no longer have that veil of “unknown fear” to keep me guessing or wondering. I know how painful and physically strenuous it is. Mothers have told me over the years that I will forget what childbirth was like as the joy and love of having a child overshadows it and blurs it into oblivion for good. Nope, this hasn’t been true for me. I remember everything. To be honest I dread labor again. I am not sure if this whole “forgetting what labor was like” story is true for some – but for me it is a fantasy. Now that I know what’s to come, it makes me afraid sometimes when I think too much about it. This is something I have to regularly pray about so the Lord can help me overcome it.

Accepting that you must go through it again in order to have a second child is a hurdle in itself. I am still not there yet mentally. There have been times I have wanted to resign to the idea of just having one child. That Jonah will be it for us. Then as time has gone on, I have started to entertain the idea of having a second baby. I have had to pray to the Lord to open my heart and mind to the thought of wanting another child. Deep down I cannot be content with the idea of having one child. When I honestly search my inner thoughts and doubts of having any more children all I can come back with when I examine myself is that my selfishness stands in the way of wanting more.

Motherhood and parenting is about being selfless, NOT selfish. Yes, as parents we do need a little “me” time now and then of course. We need to tend to ourselves and make sure we aren’t stretched too thin, that we don’t always come last in every little thing. However I am talking about as a whole – collectively. Being selfish stopped the moment we gave birth to our baby. Having a second or subsequent children means you relinquish any slither of selfishness that might be leftover. This is done so you can add another to your family, give your first child a sibling they can grow up with. For some mothers this is no challenge at all. They are ready and wanting to be pregnant and bring a second addition into their lives. However for some of us it is a struggle and there are some fears and insecurities attached.

 

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The first time I held my son. I was overwhelmed, relieved it was all over, so ecstatic I had a boy, slightly nervous about whether or not I could cope with the new demands of being a mum. I look at this expression on my face and can instantly see how many thoughts I had running through my head.

 

In those first few weeks and months, all new mothers (and fathers) want to do is get used to their new role and job in life: parenting. We want to tackle and conquer the daily challenges of what a baby brings us. We want to learn to multi task, to be able to cater to our little one and also cater to our husband at the same time. We learn to function throughout the day on a significant amount of less sleep than we have managed previously. We want to nurture our bodies with the right nutrition, we want to experience being able to move and exercise with ease again (without a giant belly!) or in some women’s cases – to rehabilitate depending on their delivery. There are such a large array of things mothers and parents need to prioritise and get used to in those first few months.

Once we find our footing again, thoughts of expanding a family start to come to mind. But not before someone else – whether that be a friend, family member, or total stranger – asks us the questions of “if and when” we are going to have another. The question can stop us in our tracks. It can make us agitated, offended, nervous, anxious or curious. It forces us to think about it, to confront the decision. For some it’s premature, for others they have already been considering it. For myself personally, in those earlier months I had discussed the subject with my husband a handful of times and we always came back undecided, sometimes “no” if i was having an emotional day or sometimes “yes we will have another, but let’s just not start trying now.” Nowadays, 14 months down the track we just casually talk about “when the next baby is here or comes” as we have both come to understand that having 2 children isn’t an awful or terrible thing, it won’t ruin our lives and won’t be a burden. God has softened us to the reality of another sibling for Jonah. However we aren’t quite at the stage of trying right this moment.

Because I was asked so soon after having Jonah if I wanted another baby I have tried my best to be considerate to other new mums and not ask those same questions of them. Of course I have asked a couple of close friends. Usually I say “I realise this is way too soon but……” so that the mother I am asking doesn’t consider me rude. It has made me understand why some women have asked me this same question – morbid curiosity. It gets the better of us all and we want to know the answer. However there is a time and place to ask of course, and that isn’t a mere 2 weeks after she has had her first baby! Not all women feel overwhelmed by motherhood entirely – but some of us do. This should be kept in mind before launching into any questions or conversations about adding a child or children to the family. I suppose we ask this questions of other mums because we want to open up the discussion platform. It helps us clarify in our minds where we stand on the subject ourselves. It helps us brainstorm, consider things from another point of view. Sometimes talking to another mother about having another child can put our own minds at ease. Sometimes it can do the opposite and make us anxious. I guess my point is this discussion about having more children can occur for many reasons and these questions are also asked for many reasons. Questions asked about subsequent children asked prematurely can trigger negative responses or anxiety, and it can snowball from there. Anyhow is it necessary to start thinking of having another baby immediately after your first one is born? We all have different levels of comfortability in thinking about this and reach that in our own time.

I know I have wanted to look to other mothers and their answers about having more children as I am searching for some sort of clarity for myself. Most of the time I came back with no change in my tug of war thinking. It’s only by praying about it and discussing it with my husband that I have come to feel peace about having another baby.

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I mentioned above that Phil and I had come to realise that having another child won’t ruin our lives. Let me elaborate on this. Over many years of observation and talking to other mothers/parents with more than one child I had come to the realisation that many of these parents did not seem happy. They were disgruntled, stressed out, even bitter. There was a noticeably large rift between them and their husband/partner due to the pressure of multiple children. This was not always my conclusion but their own admittance. So often have I heard “wait until you have a second child. That’s when the mayhem starts.” “Kiss any time together goodbye” “We have drifted apart since the kids.” Usually a substantial verbal outpouring about endless battles and struggles with everyday family life and their marriage follows. They haven’t had much positive to say about their significant other. Comments flood in about how their children are unruly or brats. There is so much yelling, fighting and screaming! Listening and watching this has made me fear adding to our own family. I have let other peoples experiences and advice turn me off or question having more children.

I have had to just turn my back on this habit of listening and observing other parents with multiple children. I can’t predict my own family situation through watching their experiences or allow myself to develop an unhealthy fear based on their personal circumstances, and neither can anyone else. I’ve had to learn to mature in this regard – not always take in so much of what other people say to me or how they act in front of me. At some point I have had to let go of it, instead of taking it all on and trying to mentally process it. Is it possible that there are plenty of other mothers with one child out there that have done something similar to me – developed a fear or uncertainty about having a second baby based or stories or feedback from other parents we know or meet along the way? Obviously there are a good percentage of mothers who couldn’t care less about the negative stories they hear, as they want a large family and nothing deters them from this dream. I on the other hand have been deterred by outsiders. This has meant that I have stewed over things I haven’t needed to. I know that there would be other mums out there that can relate to this.

I don’t want to accept the fear that I will grow cold in my marriage when we have another baby. I cannot make those assumptions, as what are they based on? My husbands current relationship with me, his habits and behaviour give me NO reason to have any doubts. He is selfless, supporting, shows initiative and genuinely wants to be a present and active part of our family. So God has shown me I need not fear having another child based on these hollow fears, it’s merely the enemy trying to oppress me with negativity and doubt so I cannot enjoy a family life of freedom.

Something that often comes to mind with many first time mothers I am sure is the thought of “can I love another child as I love my firstborn?” I think this same thought about Jonah. It’s hard to imagine loving another baby/child as much as I love him. Can such a bond be repeated? I am yet to experience this but I have heard time and time again that your heart simply expands further to love and care for more children. It happens naturally and willingly. A second child is not meant to replace or sideline your first child, but add more love, personality and memories to your small family unit. Not to mention company for your first child. You go from being a small family to a larger family. I do not have to take away love or decrease my level of love for Jonah when we have a second child. My heart expands. It’s because of my love for Jonah that I have wanted to have another. Love creates and inspires more love.

Another fear of mine has been the fact that I will not cope with 2 children as there have been times within myself that I have struggled having 1. I have not submitted to my new job and role as a mother completely. I have come to realise this very recently, and I believe the Lord has opened by eyes to this fact. There have been moments that I have struggled to grasp this new motherhood journey in my life, and even at times have wanted to fight against it. I have felt being a mother is inadequate and falls short of a real job or calling on a woman’s life. Occasionally I feel I have wanted to break free and do something else to feel fulfilled at times when I have felt trapped by it. I have feared these feelings and actions will continue after I have had another baby and consume me, affecting my ability to parent. My sister recently reminded me that according to Gods Word (the Bible) there is no GREATER calling than being a mother. There is no more important institution than motherhood. It is a holy privilege from God.

 

John 16:21 – “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.”

Psalm 127:3 – “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”

 

At the end of the day, it’s no one else’s business when you decide to have another child. They can ask these questions all they like but there should be no obligation you feel to answer them. I admittedly have felt I have needed to give an answer to people when they ask. There was even a point when Jonah was about 6 months old I thought briefly “ah stuff it I will just have another baby right away, smash it out and get it over with!” so I could get the difficult physical side of pregnancy over and done with. This wasn’t sincerely what I wanted though, I just gave this answer to a couple of people at the time. I felt pressure to tell people that yes, I wanted another baby. I felt guilty about my fears of not wanting any more children. However now I can talk about my transition from not wanting another baby momentarily based on my fears, to now having my mind and heart opened to the idea.

That doesn’t mean that I want to be pregnant today. It just means I have gone from being really doubtful and negative about it, to being accepting of it. I do still dread childbirth, and even to an extent the pregnancy. I had a smooth and effortless pregnancy with Jonah. I looked after myself, didn’t get morning sickness, didn’t catch a cold or flu, trained up to 39 weeks and didn’t gain an excess amount of weight. I got my fitness and athletic physique back, and most of my strength. Taking this into account though still doesn’t diminish how physically hard and draining the ENTIRE process is. Can I do it all a second time and successfully look like my old self again? These thoughts come up and I mull over them. It can, and still does seem daunting at times to me. Occasionally I have wondered “I did this once, could I do it all as well the second time?” So often we hear that it’s much harder to “bounce back” after a second pregnancy. Training or making it any sort of priority in your weekly schedule becomes harder with 2 children as opposed to 1. Everything is more difficult. Will I have that level of commitment?  Self doubt can momentarily creep in.

I just have to keep thinking “one day at a time. One month at a time.” God’s timing is perfect when it comes to having children and I must trust that He is in control and will prepare me. As I grow and mature as a wife, mother and a woman – so will my ability to multi task, prioritise, organise and commit. I see how much I have grown from motherhood thus far, how much I have matured and learned. This is the beginning and there is more to come, I don’t doubt that.  It’s ok to feel you aren’t ready just yet, however don’t dismiss the idea of another baby just based on external fears or what you have heard and seen from others. Don’t dismiss it based on the fact it’s physically difficult and takes serious commitment. As women we have amazing determination and do recover and get ourselves to where we want to be after babies. We all continue in personal growth as we journey throughout motherhood. With each subsequent child we adapt. We manage. We can even thrive.

 

 

J xx

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Mums behaving badly

I’ve wanted to write a blog on this subject for quite some time but wanted to wait until I had a bit more time under my belt as a mother before I did. After all, once noticing that the world of motherhood wasn’t what I thought it would be from a few weeks post partum, I had to allow myself the leniency of “what if you are wrong?” So I have given it a few more months of observation. In this time I have discovered that my earliest discoveries about this new mum world are correct. Brace yourself it’s a long blog 😜

I would like to note here before mothers with multiple children criticise me for still being such a new mum – that YES, I do admit I am still just that. As I’ve said before I cannot be any further along in my journey than I am at present. I am still fresh as far as experience goes. I have much to learn overall and in no way am I a perfect mother. I have often voiced that I don’t think I’m a very good mother in some regards and it HASN’T come naturally to me. So in writing about this subject I am not putting my mothering skills on a pedestal in any way. I am shining light onto a subject that parallels actual mothering, my intention is to unveil and openly discuss it. I’d like to fall into the category of a realist blogger so I feel subjects that are uncomfortable such as these should be spoken about publically and am happy to write about them even if people disagree or don’t like me for it. This blog is more so my experiences and observations of mothers and women themselves and how I have found them to behave. It is also mixed with stories I have had certain friends disclose to me about their experiences with mums.

Some mothers are, without a doubt, the bitchiest, most backstabbing and 2 faced group of people I have ever encountered in my life. They relish in gossip and drama, they compete with each other, they subtly make each other feel inadequate, they team up, they twist your words and use it as harmful gossip, they body shame each other, they exclude other mothers and they create and maintain clicks amongst each other, and they give forceful, wrong and even at times harmful advice to each other. Even worse than this, they even try to sabotage each other. Fortunately I have not fallen prey to this, only observed it in the early stages happen to others.

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Harsh meme but oh so true for countless mothers I’ve met or interacted with.

I hope there aren’t any women reading this blog coming back thinking “really? Is this sort of thing actually happening?” I cannot for a second imagine that mothers could be that naïve and don’t know or see what is so blatantly obvious about how mums behave badly. Whether you’ve been subjected to bad treatment or have witnessed it happen to other mothers – one must acknowledge it happens and it’s a growing issue.

I do acknowledge that to every negative story there is a positive – some women have found large amounts of support from other mothers through mothers groups, mums and bubs fitness classes, corporate mothers events and more commonly social media. Personally I have encountered and met a small handful of genuine and beautiful mothers on social media and in “real life” that I have found to be lovely, encouraging and supportive. There have only been a few though, and these mothers aren’t clicky and are often lone wolves themselves in some regards. Perhaps that’s why they are genuinely nice?

I have also met a few mums who maintain they have never been caught up in “mum drama” and haven’t ever been either obviously or subtly excluded, bullied or shamed in any way. They acknowledge it happens but deny having anything to do with it or are aware of the extent. Out of these women I see maybe half are genuine and have indeed had very little exposure to this toxic “world”. The other half just say that to try and parade a sense of superiority over you. As in – “wow you must be such a screw up if you’re involved in all this” and act as if they are so far above it or removed from it. Some of these particular women I have seen subtly belittle other mums or ooze that self-superiority over them. But they are artful and duplicitous about it. So yes naturally they haven’t been on the other end of it because they are the perpetrators! Go figure!

I am pointing out the 2 words I continue to use when it comes to mothers behaving badly – SUBTLY and OBVIOUSLY. Because there are 2 categories and some of us have been subjected to both and others just one type. Both are awful, but it’s the subtle category that drives me insane. It makes you question your sanity until that particular nasty mother comes out and DOES do something obvious and then you have that morbidly triumphant moment of “YES, I was right and I could sense she had a problem with me all along!!” Happy dance? 💃 Hmmm probably not quite haha but it is a relief to know you’re not assuming things and going insane!

Obviously I am one of those mothers who have not only felt but HAVE been excluded both conveniently and deliberately, both subtly and obviously. I have had my words twisted, been gossiped about, and have had other mums compete with me. I am not ashamed, embarrassed or so over confident that I will not admit to this.

I would say I am a confident woman in my own right and don’t struggle with low self esteem or question my status as a woman. This is because I have Christ in my life and He is the unwavering and unshakable foundation of me. I know I am accepted and loved unconditionally and He has transformed me from who I used to be. I also have been undeservedly blessed with a husband that surpasses all normal standards for husbands. In marrying Phil I also have further developed that confidence that I am loved, admired and found beautiful in my own way and own right. I no longer need or care for the opinions of others to validate myself. However in saying all this, there are occasional moments where I do experience confusion, anger and even hurt at how mothers have treated me. It has caused me to not trust the majority of those I meet – despite the appearance that I may. I am a socially engaging and vocal person, so others perceive this as me trusting everyone and perhaps being in tight with a group. This isn’t the case. Despite being confident in who I am it does not mean I do not feel isolated, excluded and lonely at times. It doesn’t mean I kid myself and allow myself to be deluded by the notion I am well liked. I know I’m not and I am ok with it, and I even like this about myself at times. I will never change myself to become more likeable to others. I am not a conformist. However this doesn’t mean I appreciate or am unphased by the treatment I have received from other mothers.

I have had to discuss this subject with my husband at length and he has given me some sound advice about how to handle mean mothers and even opened my eyes to some things. He has even had to set me straight at times. He often can see more in a situation and a scenario that I can, and he will often read women more thoroughly than I will. He sits back and quietly observes where as sometimes I get sidetracked by the excitement and can only observe with one eye. I am sure I am not the only one with a husband that has this trait!? He has vocalized with me that he has witnessed mothers behaving the way I have spoken of, and has fittingly said “it is a whole other world” of which he is glad not to be part of.

Recently I have come to experience other mothers directly lie and bitch about me and twist my words to make me out to be the demon. This has been a new experience as a mother but not a foreign one to me as a woman altogether. There are obviously certain things like dealing with awful social media trolls and being body shamed that I haven’t experienced enough to the extent to personally write about (there have been a couple of minor episodes but nothing major!) I do sympathise greatly to those mothers that have had to endure this and it’s utterly hurtful in its own right, but I am not touching on that much in depth today.

I wish I could caution all women and tell them appearances can be deceiving and things are never as they seem with mothers. Gosh if only they were! How blissfully simple life would be! If you want me to count how many mothers smile at me and mooch over my son calling him cute – then there are TONS. It’s one thing to call someone’s child cute and leave a little love heart emoji on their Instagram picture or approach them in person and ask for a cuddle. It’s another entirely to treat the mother of that child in a pleasant manner and go out of your away to be genuine to her, to acknowledge her. Compliments about your child or the outfit you’re wearing in no way symbolizes that mother likes you or accepts you, or even wants to get to know you and include you. I discovered this early on.

I do see some mothers that are easily flattered and believe if another mother compliments their child that this means they are liked and part of the click/group. HAHA. No. It means they think your child is cute and no more. There can be that separation between your child and you personally. They might say your child/baby is adorable but secretly think you’re a mole. OR they are jealous or threatened by you for some reason. These reasons vary so much I would have to type a 3000 word blog just to go into them. But believe me reasons for some women not liking, accepting or excluding other mothers can range from ones appearance to someone’s wealth status. It can pendulum from disagreement on beliefs and how you raise your children, to your relationship status and how happy you are in your life compared to them.

I will touch on a couple of these reasons for exclusions. I was warned by a much older mother that I should be careful how much I disclose to other mothers about how happy and content I am in the personal life. As in my strong and secure marriage and the fact I respect and am still IN LOVE with my husband. I needed no explanation from her saying this and cottoned on immediately. The sad fact is – If you express your happiness in life too much, and don’t have anything too negative to say in general discussion with other mothers who are experiencing hardship or are disgruntled – be prepared to be shunned or excluded on that account. Be prepared to be as ostracised by this as you would be for having a different belief system or religion to other mums. Prepare that they will grow to be jealous of you. Women all love to get together to discuss hardships. So they should to a degree as it’s what friends can be for. I do feel many of these group verbal bashings of men should be kept to one on one coffee dates though, not broadcasted as public knowledge. But we all know mothers who take this to the extreme and it’s almost like a competition of who has it hardest and who has the greater woe. You don’t have a woe to talk about? Well, “aren’t you little miss perfect??”

Further on from that, there are those mothers (not meaning to generalise but in my experience I have found most to be mothers with 2 children or more) that are married and on face value like to make out they have a home life to be envied. Not too long after you get to know them more they start bitching about their husbands. There literally are only a very small number of women (talking real life) that haven’t bitched about their husbands or partners to me. These men would be shocked if they knew what was being openly spoken about! Their laziness, their inability to fulfill their obligations as a father, their lack of romance, never showing initiative, not appreciating enough, having a wandering eye for other women…….the list goes on and on. Before you know it, there’s a larger than life bitchfest going on and you have nothing to contribute because you aren’t having issues at home, you don’t hate your husband and you don’t find him lacking. So you are now an outcast because you won’t delve into negative slander about a man in your life. You feel the silent push of exclusion happening because you have nothing to add to the conversation.

Another example of exclusions: A group of mothers will arrange catch-up’s amongst themselves right in front of other mums yet not invite 1 or 2 particular mothers. I’ve seen it happen to others and it’s happened to me. You think you might be included in a particular group yet you see photos or videos on social media of outings you’ve been completely excluded from. Not a mention of an invitation. This is not always a nice feeling trust me! You get those awkward moments where 2 mums are going to have a casual unplanned coffee catch-up and you’re kind of just standing there as they talk about it – then they turn to you and say “oh…..you can come if you want.” Ahhhh the fake pleasantries. It’s the backhanded invite where they are probably said under their breath “please say no, please say no.” Yes, this has happened to me. Then there are more major invitations and events that you were told you would be invited to, then there is a change of date and venue and you weren’t told about or reissued an invite. Awkward. And hurtful. Then because you weren’t there you become even more of an outcast. Yet again, this has happened to me.

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Motherhood can be like the movie “Mean Girls” but with designer nappy bags, mum buns and a baby on the hip.

A special mention needs to be made of those mothers that compete with other mothers. Being a mother that trains and lives an active lifestyle I am exposed to many “fit mums” both in real life and on social media. I witness the competitiveness more than anything in this arena. This is one of the ways that mums behave badly that is generally as subtle as they come. Women silently compete with each other over who gets back into shape faster post partum, who is fitter and can lift a certain amount, who had less ab separation, who can do more exercises than others. One way some (more commonly instafamous women) like to compete is by excessively flaunting and parading what they have physically in order to try and make other mothers feel inadequate. I’ve touched on this subject before. Every woman has had a different pregnancy and post partum journey and should be credited for training throughout pregnancy and post baby. Absolutely. But there is some face rubbing that goes on for sure. Those women that peacock and constantly overexpose themselves usually have something amiss in their personal lives. Validation and love from strangers and peers is necessary in order to maintain self-preservation for these women.

Some mothers in the fitness industry that I have recently been in connection with will openly “bag out” other mothers for not being fit in their eyes, for not being at a particular standard. They criticise a particular body part of that woman, or her training style. I do have some strong opinions about what I deem as fit and strong but I don’t always disclose it. My own personal opinions line up with what I try to achieve fitness wise. My opinion and goal is my standard, and I am entitled to it, and often just keep it to myself. I do feel the word “fit” is thrown around too often yes, however I don’t appreciate people in the fitness industry openly paying out on others who aren’t to their standard of what they believe as fit. Particularly mean are those that pay out on other mothers that are in the industry to make a living. I have recently terminated training at a facility for one of many reasons but this being one of them. The talk about other mothers in the industry got too much and I knew it was a toxic environment and I could fall prey to further gossip if I wasn’t careful. Often these fit mums believe they are superior in their level of fitness but I know that there is always someone fitter and more capable than they are and perhaps one day they will be humbled. Once again, usually these women lack something in their personal lives and like to big note themselves above other active mums to reinforce with themselves that they are important and matter. Often these woman have stale personal relationships and also fall into the category of women to bitch about their husbands and partners as I stated above.

Where you train and where you socialize – and with whom, really does matter. Choose your tribe and your environment carefully. A mother can quickly be pulled down into a gossip fest if not careful, or land herself in hot water. I am no exemption to this and have answered questions I thought were harmless and admitted to knowing certain information about someone that was of interest to another mother. I guess ill admit I’m not always on guard and sometimes a simple questioning tactic escapes me and I’m like “yeah, I know her.” Or something like that. Boom. Now they want to know more and I should have seen it coming. Mothers delve for a reason. I am yet to become more experienced at detection. Aren’t we all to some degree?

Sometimes conversations can take a drastic turn and suddenly it’s almost too late to change subject! I have stated my opinions on things out loud to the wrong people and have had my words twisted to a point where something I did say quite neutrally was misquoted into making me a totally horrible person. Mothers will gang up on others and start spreading lies to try and drag another mothers name through the mud. I’m learning more and more to say less in a group environment where there are more prying eyes and ears, and keep anything beyond surface chat to a private 1 on 1. Women want a “safe place” to chat – well these days seek a counsellor and pay for that service because to me, no environment is safe to talk about personal matters as they can get manipulated, twisted and thrown back in your face. Women in the fitness industry want to know about other women in the industry and with the wave of “fit mums” that are emerging so is this incessant need for other mothers to compare and compete, find out about each others personal lives. This is one of those scenarios where you’d have to be involved in the fitness industry to know what I mean. Competing for fitness levels, 6 packs and tight booty’s is not the only form of competing mothers delve into.

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This truthful quote came from my husbands mouth only a few days ago to me about mums we have interacted with. I then found it online.

Mothers also compete when it comes to their offspring. It’s quite disgusting really. They treat and talk about their children as if they are a direct extension of their entire being. They try and live vicariously through them to an extent. They act as if the developments their child makes physically and mentally is an addition to their own achievements and ego. They state things that their child has done that they know yours hasn’t. “Oh my son walked at 9 months” – how often I’ve heard that one. “My daughters were climbing things at 4 months.” Yes, I’ve actually heard that. Not sure if that’s even possible but it was said. As if it’s a reflection on their own physical condition? Yep, ok.

Is your son doing this yet?” “Is your child sleeping through?” “Are they rolling over yet” blah blah blah you can hear the condescending tones behind their questions. Many of us can relate. They ask these questions because they cannot wait to brag about how quickly their child did this or that. As if it makes them a better mother and their child is more advanced than yours? So terrible. Then queue the fake reassuring “oh don’t worry, he will get there” type comments. These comments aren’t meant at all and don’t come from genuine encouragement, let me assure you. It’s just a way they can close the conversation. Everything they wanted to achieve has been done – to compete with you and let you know your child is below theirs in development of something. I see this all the time its terrible!

A wise mother in her 50’s said to me late last year “you know when your child is 18 it won’t matter in the slightest how old they were when they walked or crawled.” Too right. So these silly competitive stories mothers tell about their children will have no relevance later in life and gives NO indication of how their child will turn out, or how their mothering skills are. I got a bit of a complex earlier days about Jonah’s abilities based on what a couple of mothers said to me. Now I see through it and just shut it down, or ignore it. I then identify there is an underlying issue with the mother. I encourage other mums who have been through the same to come to that same conclusion – and quickly. It’s just another ploy to compete and make you feel less than them. They have problems. Don’t befriend that mother if she is saying things like that. Best to steer clear.

I was deceived into thinking that once you’re a mother you’re all in it together, you’re all automatically accepted and part of a universal group of mature attitudes and ways of behaving and thinking. WOW I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s like high school magnified and amplified. The sheer amount of 2 faced backstabbing behaviour I see regularly has quickly made me see that my assumptions before I started my motherhood journey were almost laughable. Welcome to the cesspool of a large percentage of women who are toxic, bitchy, conniving and lying gossipers with virtually no genuineness to them whatsoever. Shocking but true statement. I’m always stunned by the 2 faced behaviour I see, and this proves I am not desensitized to it yet (is that a positive? I can’t be sure!)

Social media gives even more opportunity for 2-faced women to gain momentum. I see women I know liking and writing lovely comments on other mothers photos – and I’m instantly confused and almost angry at their level of audacity!! Based on things I’ve heard her say about this mother in my mind I’m almost screaming “oh my gosh you don’t even like her!!!” Yet this mother on the receiving end has no idea. Well maybe I shouldn’t say that. Maybe she does, and it’s a case of playing that mother back, beating her at her own game. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer kind of thing? Who knows, it makes my head hurt. On a side note – at least I KNOW I’m not always well liked. Some mothers walk around as if no one has a bad word to say about them. Oh how wrong they are. However they say ignorance is bliss. Is it best not to know?

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The 2 faced game is as common as garden weeds. Truth 🙌🏼

What can a mother do if she has been ill treated by other mothers in any of the above examples I’ve given? (I am sure there are quite a few ways I still haven’t mentioned!) Well you can approach this particular mother and tackle it head on, or the entire group. Call them on their unfair, immature or cruel behaviour publically and hope that the heated chat leads to closure. Mothers who prey on other mums never like to be exposed publically and often try and play victim if push comes to shove. Confronting them may succeed but on the other hand it may lead to open denial and more lies could follow, entangling you further. You possibly wont get to the bottom of it.

You could always try the investigative approach when it comes to discovering lies and gossip (which I have tried before) – If it’s a case of “she said versus she said” when the truth comes out, I would examine the facts carefully and weigh up what was said, who started it, the motives and who had more to gain from it. You can try and decipher who is loyal to you, who is being truthful. Sometimes this strategy works, if you’re good at being objective and have all the facts and information about this particular mother that has said or done something wrong by you. But it’s a time consuming process.

What I have started to do is simply distance myself from these types of mothers. Not associate with them any further or remove myself from the environment where I was interacting with them. Usually once this happens there is a knee jerk reaction on their part. They may have a go at you when they detect you’ve gone “off” them or unveiled them. They may delete or block you on social media (this is always a laugh to me as it completely cements their guilt and their position towards you deep down) or they may start rumours about you furthermore. Their behaviour there afterwards will completely indicate what sort of person they truly are, and how petty they can be. If they truly missed your company and interaction they would approach you respectfully and maturely and ask what they had done to offend. However this is rare that someone would do this, mother or not. Never be an enabler and tolerate mistreatment from any mother, despite a possible attachment to the circle of women or environment you’ve come to enjoy that she dominates or circulated in. Complete extraction is the only remedy.

After you’ve been mistreated, excluded, gossiped about or bitched about by mothers all you can do is be grateful you know what they are like sooner than later and avoid others that show similar traits and behaviours you meet in future. Perhaps learn not to try and befriend the “queen bee” in the room but the mother that is quietest and doesn’t appear to have minions following her around. Befriend the lone wolf so to speak. She may add more value to your life than the mothers that are always bitching and talking, the mothers that want to excessively verbal vomit about their personal lives, the mothers who seem to know the latest dramas about others, the mothers who appear to have colourful social lives. Don’t let appearances deceive you. Don’t let someone’s social media account deceive you either.

My final conclusion is to be slow to make friends and examine the ones you have already made. Sometimes developing a “mum crush” for someone way too quickly can have you backpedaling faster than you can manage when you find out what she is really like on close acquaintance. Also, be open minded to the fact that just because a particular mother is nice to you, doesn’t mean she is that way to other mums. She may not find anything about you that is a threat to her and she may not see you as vulnerable. This doesn’t mean she doesn’t prey on or mistreat other mums (past or present.) Everyone has different experiences with different people. If you do find out that a mother you like has bullied, excluded, shamed or deeply hurt another mother you know or meet – reconsider your friendship and alliance with her. Don’t be so blinded by a friendship that you can’t see that person has flaws. We all do really.

I’ve actually befriended a mum bully before (only to an extent thankfully!) without knowing right away. Even up until recently. More than once. But the truth really does come out eventually and you can free yourself from the friendship. Always remember after you’ve been burned by a mum behaving badly – her behaviour is actually because of something more deep seeded that she is yet to deal with or overcome in her own life. Some sort of insecurity or endless inadequacy that she feels towards herself or her personal life. Sometimes it can stem from bitterness and jealousy because of something she is going through behind closed doors. Sometimes mothers are just bitchy, jealous and competitive by nature and there is no family grievance that has triggered her mean spirit. There are a few possibilities but do know and find comfort in this: It comes down to this simple and well-known fact of the matter – it is not you. It’s them.

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The bible warns us about the dangers of bad friend choices.

Love to all the mothers out there that can relate to any of the above. Never tolerate any form of bullying and don’t let your silence endorse the behaviour either if you witness it. Support other mums you know of that have been subjected to nasty behavior and raise awareness that subtle and obvious mum bullying, shaming, exclusions and backstabbing gossip is not ok.

Jess xx

My joy of breastfeeding

I uploaded a photo of me breastfeeding my son well over 4 months ago and did a small write up under the photo of my thoughts towards breastfeeding and how they had changed in the short few weeks of becoming a mum. Being that it was just World Breastfeeding Week I thought I’d elaborate more on my experience with breastfeeding my son using what I originally wrote as a template – explaining how and why I went from being feared of it, to it becoming something I now enjoy immensely and have gradually come to love!

 

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The first breastfeeding photo I took in March, Jonah was about 5-6 weeks old and I felt to write a post about how much my views on breastfeeding had changed!

 

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I’ve taken a few lovely breastfeeding photos over the months. I love looking back on them 💜

 

Breastfeeding was the one thing after labour that I was dreading the most about motherhood. I dreaded it more than tears and tantrums, more than the fear of not bouncing back to my pre baby body and having abs anymore, loosing my high level of fitness, even more than sleepless nights and over tiredness (I’ve been very precious with my sleep for years and dreaded not getting the same 9-10 hours per night so it’s a big deal to fear anything more than that!) I know this all sounds rather dramatic and my list of anxieties were long but I am just being honest here.

Some women look forward to experiencing breastfeeding and soaking up that feeling of nursing their baby – but I never did. I was anxious at the very thought and the idea of a baby sucking at my breast was a turn off and somewhat unbearable. I was fine with watching other mothers breastfeed but for myself imagining it was too much.

In the weeks leading up to having Jonah I started to massage my nipples with oil to try and prepare them for the stimulation that was to come. I was recommended to do this by a few mothers and was told it would help. Even doing this after the shower made me feel uncomfortable and I would get this wirey, agitated and flushed feeling come over me and I could barely even massage my own nipples because of it. Aside from that they were so sensitive – and not in a good way. I didn’t want to even touch them myself, let alone a tiny mouth being attached to them!!! I would cringe thinking of how much harder it would be to tolerate a baby sucking than my own hands and fingers massaging.

I even cried to my husband about this, in doubt that I could cope or endure it, and he would try and say the right things to console me. He even said that if it was too much and I couldn’t manage it, that he would not expect me to continue. He assured me there would be no pressure on me from him and we could use formula after a few days if breastfeeding didn’t work out. This would calm me down of course and I thought “yep I have an immediate plan B in place as I think I’ll need it.”

I’d made comments over the months like “oh if I make sure I feed my child for a month I’ll be happy.” In my mind I planned to only feed for a month at some points, then only 3 months maximum. I’d put time limits on it as I didn’t want to do it and felt unenthusiastic and apprehensive about it. I feared the pain from it and all the stories I’d heard of things that can go wrong. Cracked and bleeding nipples, mastitis, baby not latching properly, not having enough supply…. to name a few. I also feared the task of giving so much of myself to feeding and everything that surrounded that. Like many other people I did have a very prominent selfish side before having a child. I feared how much of my life would be consumed by feeding, being woken up, burping etc etc.

After a while I thought to pray to the Lord for help in this area, about my feelings towards this natural process. I don’t know why I didn’t pray sooner to be honest. I also know that although I did turn to God to ask His help, I still doubted myself and what he could really do to change my mind about this daunting task that lie ahead (that’s how I viewed it!). It wasn’t until after my labour did I really rely on Him to help enable me to do what He had made me (a woman and mother) to do. I asked him to help my outlook on it and to physically cope with the demands of it. Praise God He did more than that!

From the very start Jonah was a perfect feeder, had a perfect latch and suck. He has a big mouth and big lips so this helps I was told. When I was in hospital and he was feeding for the first 2 days, I did experience dry and slightly chapped nipples. It reminded me of when I was young and I forgot to wear lip balm to school on a cold windy winters day and came home with chapped lips that stung a little. My nipples felt and looked like that. So naturally I got worried and nearly had a melt down thinking my nipples weren’t doing so well. The lanolin balm came in really handy I tell you what! I grew an attachment to that stuff!! Also my left nipple would sting when Jonah would latch on a feed for the first few seconds so I instantly got insecure and feared that he wasn’t latching properly and causing me pain on that side.

It wasn’t until I went to a class held at the hospital after the second day of staying there and saw a very experienced lactation consultant did my insecurity fade considerably. She watched me feed Jonah and was so encouraging, told me he was a great feeder and latcher. She also told me what to look for to know if he’s feeding properly, and assured me that the slight sting did not mean he wasn’t latching correctly and that it was more my nipple getting used to the sucking. I was so relieved.

I admit I was also a lot slower to whinge after going to that class and seeing about 8 other women around me have a very hard time feeding their babies! Some women’s babies were not even latching on the nipple properly and they had to squeeze the colostrum out with their fingers (it looked painful and uncomfortable!) and feed their baby through a syringe! This seemingly was quite frustrating for mother and baby and was resulting in tears from mum and a lot of crying from the baby. Some other women had bleeding and cracked nipples and I really felt for them. I looked at Jonah asleep peacefully after I had the lactation consultant watch and guide me feeding him for a few minutes and I felt like a fool for being so dramatic and working myself up over nothing when other women actually did have something to be frustrated or upset about. I couldn’t believe I nearly had a melt down over chapped nipples that stung a little bit. I’m so precious sometimes, with anything to do with my body I always have been. Becoming a mother has really helped work some of that out of me.

 

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Jonah’s first feed. Although I looked happy here (more so relieved it was all over!) in my mind I was SO apprehensive and anxious about him feeding even then. He seemed very calm and peaceful so if it wasn’t for that I would have worked myself up I think!

 

Once I got over this initial hurdle the next wave of fear about feeding came. I feared day 3 or 4 when my milk was due to come. Although I know this varies for everyone, I feared the next stage and all the cluster feeding that was to come. My milk came in at day 3 and my body didn’t handle it well. Like every other woman I had boobs like Dolly Parton – they were HUGE!!! 😳 So round and orb like. They were rock hard. I was almost intimidated by them. I don’t fancy large breasts and don’t aspire to have them…so I was thinking “gosh I hope they go down in size, image training with boobs this big, what a set back!” I don’t know how women can get implants now after having boobs like that for a couple of days! My body must of been in shock I think because the huge boobs were just the start – it took a hard hit. I had the sweats so badly, soaring temperatures one hour to then having the shakes from being so cold the next, a splitting headache, almost fainting from feeling light headed several times. I was as pale as a ghost and felt shockingly depleted and ill. I was confined to the couch and only got up when needed to feed Jonah and go to the toilet. This lasted almost a whole day, but the fevers only lasted a few hours. So that wasn’t the best experience! However Jonah didn’t cluster feed at all, he just consistently fed every 3 hours. So this made thing easier for me whilst I endured all these symptoms from my milk coming in!

I did spend many days very insecure at the slightest thing to do with feeding Jonah. For the first 2 days when my colostrum was in he would feed every 3 hours for around 30 mins. However once my milk came in the duration of feeding time went down to only about 7 minutes on average. He would suck like a Hoover for a short time and then be done. I worried he had issues with feeding and wasn’t getting enough as all the brochures I was given or articles I read stated average feeding times of 30-45 mins! So naturally I jumped to my own conclusions. Well, when my midwife made her house calls and weighed Jonah it was clear the kid was packing on the pounds and was well and truly getting enough. At day 4 he had regained his birth weight plus nearly 100g! At 3 weeks he was 5 kilos. She said he was a very efficient feeder and was taking what he needed but just in a very short space of time. It was only then I let go of that issue. To this day Jonah never feeds long. 15 mins tops if that! Only before bed will he feed half an hour. Every baby is different, so I’m told all the time.

 

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Token milk drunk photo!
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💜

 

 

Now that God has taken me through child birth and I have my son, and I see how dependant he is on me and how much he is growing and developing because I am the source of his food. My mindset has changed. It’s almost as if God has softened me towards this and my fear and dread of breast feeding left after a couple of weeks. I went from enjoying it most of the time to loving it. I love being able to bond with my son through the experience, I love knowing I can give him the best possible nutrients through my milk and what I eat. I’m proud of his weight gain and healthiness because of what I am giving him 😊 It makes sense to me now that if I can breastfeed and my son can latch well and feed well I should be thankful for this experience and not look to avoid it.

Fast forward almost 6 months and I love breastfeeding so much. It’s one of my most favourite things to do as a mother. It brings me so much joy and happiness. So many precious and funny memories have come from Jonah feeding, or latching on. It’s like there’s Jonah when he’s feeding and Jonah when he’s not feeding – 2 different sides to him. If this makes sense? I spend most of his feeding time staring at him nowadays as I’m doing my best to savour the experience. I used to see it as a bit mundane to begin with and the early weeks are a blur. Now I sit there with him, leave my phone behind and just be there in the moment, gazing at his gorgeous little face and his ever changing facial expressions. I get emotional when I think that the weeks are limited of exclusive breastfeeding as I start to introduce more solids. I’m proud of us both and thankful to the Lord that I have exclusively breastfeed for almost 6 months. What a beautiful experience and gift, and a journey that has taught me about sacrifice, selflessness, love and patience.

God has continually taught me through my short time of being a mum that there is no fear in something natural that He has ordained. I’m still learning so much about my new job as a mother but having no fear and to rely on Him is one of the first of many things I’ve learned.

 

Thanks for reading 🙏🏼😘

 

Jess xx