On the School Bus

Oscar starts school in three short weeks. But whether or not I’m ready for it is not what I want to talk about today (by the way, I’m not).

I knew the school we’d chosen was the right one from the first visit. I just knew. But there was a problem. The school is three miles away and I don’t drive. This wouldn’t have been an issue had there been a decent public transport link, but there just isn’t. However, I knew this school was perfect for Oscar, so I put all thoughts of actually getting him there to the back of my mind. After all where there’s a will, there’s a way, right?

And I’m thrilled to say we found that way. Because we live more than two miles away from the school (3.1 to be exact) and because I don’t drive due to my epilepsy and because of Oscar’s Autism, the council have agreed to provide him with transport to and from school. I’m so happy about this. The logistics otherwise just don’t bare thinking about. It means the mini bus will pick him up from our house and drop him at school (and vice versa) every day. It’s such a relief.

I love that it means I can concentrate on just getting one of us ready in the morning. I mean I probably wont hand him over in my pyjamas, but if I really had to I could! I can make sure he’s as prepped for the day and as calm as possible without having to worry about getting myself ready to leave the house and struggling to getting him there. No more mile long walks along busy roads to preschool every day for me!

And I think he’s going to enjoy getting the bus with other children from his school. He’s a surprisingly sociable little guy, so I think he’s going to get a lot out of riding in the ‘Frog Bus’ (the bus has a frog on the side) with the kids. He will of course have an adult escort on the bus, but I’m hoping he’ll enjoy the social interaction that it brings and who knows, he may even make some friends!

And that got me thinking. One of the main things I felt we missed out on when Oscar was starting late and finishing early at preschool (apart from actual time at preschool) was the social interaction with the children and their parents. It was really hard for me to develop any kind of friendships through the preschool because I just didn’t see, and therefore get to know, any of the other mums. And the fact that I’m not going to be dropping off or picking up Oscar from school, kind of leaves me in the same situation. When children are older and start making their own friends I don’t suppose it matters so much. But at this young age, I remember from my own childhood, that much of the socialising they do outside of school comes as a result of the friendships their parents make at the gates. Not to mention the friendships that I could be missing out on. It’s something of a conundrum.

But hang on just a minute. Schools in the States use buses to transport their pupils as standard don’t they? Unless TV and films have lied to me, even from the earliest age our Stateside friends put their kids on a bus to school and have them dropped off in the same fashion and have been doing so for years. So what do American parents do? How do they connect with their child’s school? How do they meet each other? How do they form friendships? Do they have another way or is it something that wouldn’t occur to them to do at all? I obviously need to chat to some American moms and find out what I need to be doing. Any advice gratefully accepted!

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Of course the school gates aren’t the only way to meet other parents at your child’s school. Its the easiest way sure, but what about things like PTA meetings and committees? School fetes and fundraising dos? I can do those. I can help out and make friends at the same time. And I hear Oscar’s school’s version of PTA meetings have wine!

See. I knew it was the right school for us 😉

My New Tattoo

In my late teens I decided I want to rebel. In the mildest manner possible. I was never one for starting a revolution, but I wanted to do the things my parents didn’t want me to do. So I took up smoking, drank heavily on a Friday night, got the top of my ear pierced (I wanted to get my nose done to really piss my dad off but I chickened out!), I occasionally inhaled (ahem!) and I got a tattoo. A tiny star at the top of my arm. The star was taken from the front of a friend’s wallet. I walked into a tattoo shop on Union Street, Plymouth, told them want I wanted and got it done there and then. It cost me a fiver. It wasn’t anything special to anyone else, but to me it ticked a box and actually I really loved it. It’s not the neatest work I’ve ever seen, but do you know, I had it done with all my heart and therefore I’ve never wanted to change it. I also didn’t want another one. It served it’s purpose, I’d been there, done that, so to speak.

Although actually that’s a bit of a lie. I have always thought about having another one. I saw other people’s and admired their creativity and courage. But I was looking for something small, nothing fancy. No names, no frills and flounces. Something that meant something, but nothing too painful. I couldn’t find anything that ticked all those boxes, and I was in no rush, so I let the idea go.

Then I had a baby and pain took on a new level of meaning. Pah! I’ve had my entire abdomen cut in two and a person removed. I got over that! What’s a tattoo compared to getting off the bed after a C-section? But I still couldn’t find anything I liked. I played with the idea of having something designed. Something with more stars (I love stars), possibly intertwined stars? Three intertwined stars to represent me, Ben and Oscar? Hmmm. Maybe. But it did get me thinking about the concept of family. My family. And that got me thinking about who I was now, what that meant and about my place in the scheme of things.

And then I realised, that no matter what happens in life, it will never be just me, ever again. Even if my family were to leave me, in any way, I will never just be me again, because I have given birth.

I will always be, regardless of what happens, Me and …….

And that’s when I realised what I had to have.

Me & .....

Me & …..

 

Oscar and the den….

I know I’ve talked about the pointlessness of comparing one child to another before. They’re all different and will do their stuff in their own time. Fact. But recently I’ve taken to reading some mommy/mummy blogs and man have I found myself comparing the things I do for Oscar and the life we lead, to other peoples!

At the beginning I felt inspired. I could make play dough like that, or I could make peppermint scented candy cane coloured sensory rice like that. But the more I read, the less I did. I stopped feeling so inspired and started feeling like what we were doing wasn’t enough. I started looking around at other parents in the social media stratosphere and even things that had never bothered me before suddenly made me feel like I was failing.

So OK, maybe this lack of action was the problem. Reading and not doing was bringing me down. So I tried to do some stuff. One of the blogs I read had a post about how she’d made her daughter a den out of her bed (she has a sort of day bed) and some girly blankets, which she then adorned with fairy lights. They author wrote how they spent the afternoon together in this den, cuddled up reading books. It looked and sounded perfect and easy to do. But I have a son. A boy who needs to know what everything is and how everything works. My den lasted all of a minute, before Oscar pulled it to pieces, jumped on top of the sheets and climbed over the top of the sofa. What great larks for him!

I was heart broken. I couldn’t even make a stupid den work.

It’s so hard not to compare yourself to other parents, particularly if you’re new to this game. You may have been a complete individual before you had kids, an innovator, a leader. But once you have children all that self assurance goes out of the window. Once they had children, even the most confident women I know, could be found huddled over their lattes comparing the lives they were giving their little darlings. And I don’t believe it gets any easier the older the children get. Weaning methods and sensory play gives way to birthday parties and academic achievement.

Why? Why do we feel the need to do this? Maybe “we” don’t, maybe its just me. But I would bet Oscar’s homemade playdough, (that I binned in favour of the shop bought stuff – bad mummy 😉 ) that it’s not just me. Why can’t I just be inspired and happy for the differences in the lives our children lead? Difference is what makes us interesting isn’t it? I’m not a particularly competitive person (unless I’m in a pub quiz team – then you’ll see a different Lisa altogether!) and the thought of competing against my friends or worse still people I don’t even know is just bonkers. I mean I don’t know the reality of the situation behind those gorgeous photos. I heard someone say the other day, that social media allows us to present the best version of ourselves. And my rational mind knows this applies to our parenting too. Oh but it’s just so easy to look at the soft focus, angled photos of a smiling, tousled haired child, intently painting a masterpiece with homemade glitter paint or reading books in a den lit with friggin’ fairy lights and want the same thing. Even when you know your child would eat the paint and climb on the top of the den, probably electrocuting themselves in the process.

Sigh

I gave up on the den for now. I’ve bought him a cheap pop up teepee for Christmas instead. Who knows it might even stay up long enough for him to read a book in it. I tell you what though. I wont be adorning it with fairy lights. Because he’s not her. He’s him. And I’m me. It’s OK to be inspired, but nothing good will come of comparing myself to others. I just need to remember that. And maybe cut back on the mummy blogs – for a while anyway 😉 !

Yeah, this is mine…

I’m not a closed book kind of person. Most of my friends would agree (I hope) that I’m fairly open with them. I think I’m happy to share most things (although I sometimes find it hard, we know that!) However I have been overwhelmed with the ease at which I have been able to share my birth story. Oscar’s birth was a deeply personal and intimate experience in my life and yet I have been completely open about it, often with completely strangers, offering up information I would never have dreamt of sharing before I had him. And do you know why? It’s because everybody does it! As mothers, we seem to wear our birth stories like badges of honour. And what’s wrong with that?

So if you’ve heard this already I’m sorry – but here it comes again!

My pregnancy was pretty text book really. I didn’t have morning sickness, although I did spend a few weeks feels nauseous ALL BLOODY DAY! Morning my arse! Anyway that cleared up at 10 weeks, and everything else was pretty standard.

I was under a consultant from day one, partly due to my high BMI, partly due to my epilepsy, so was monitored fairly closely. I never had any problems and the gestational diabetes and larger than average baby everyone kept predicting, never materialised. Take that obstetric generalisations!

It was at a routine midwife appointment at 35 weeks, that they noticed that my blood pressure, which had been falling throughout my pregnancy had suddenly shot up. This lead to a week in hospital and much worry about suspected pre-eclampsia and whether this baby would make full term. An NCT friend had been diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia the week before and had to have her baby delivered by emergency C-Section at 35 weeks, so I knew all too well how serious this situation could be.

I could write a whole post about this experience, but as this a birth story, I’ll leave that for another day. Suffice to say that after a week of trying, the hospital managed to stabilise my BP with drugs. I practically cheered as we left, with my tiny baby still safely tucked away.

I went home and started maternity leave. I tided, I hoovered the ceilings, I slept on the sofa. I had a week of peaceful time and I loved it.

At the end of that week I had a routine appointment with my consultant, the wonderful and no nonsense Lesley Roberts at RSCH. She took my BP, looked up at me, and said “I’m sorry Lisa, you can’t go home today”. I burst into tears. I was taken back up to the same ward I’d just escaped, given more meds and resolved to try and get this sorted. When they checked me they said I was no where near ready to give birth, so wouldn’t attempt an induction. However, my BP would just not play ball and kept rising, spiking in the middle of the night when I was asleep of all things!

I felt so frustrated. This baby was 38 weeks gestation, plenty cooked enough and here I was taking more and more drugs that seemed to do nothing. Eventually, a canny midwife saw just how frustrated I was and took me aside. Quietly, she told me that if an induction was really what I wanted, then the next time I saw the doctor I was to cry. Simple as that. So, I did as she said and do you know, it only bloody worked! It seemed getting emotional worked where being rational had failed. I was given a pessary to start things off.

I wont bore you with the next two days, as very little happened. I got some twinges, like very mild contractions, that then stopped. On day three they decided that if they could break my water I’d be able to start a proper Scyntocinon induction. Only, they didn’t tell me this is what they were doing. I thought it was odd that they gave me a gas and air pipe for an examination. Ahh then I knew why! This wasn’t an examination! It was the most painful thing I have ever experienced. They were right, he was still really high up and to reach him felt like I was being ripped apart. I went into a zone, where I felt like I put myself on a shelf and could only hear every third word being said. It was awful and amazing all at the same time. Then I heard her say ‘no’ she couldn’t do it, so I took myself of the shelf. Then she said ‘oh hang on’ and I felt a whoosh as my waters broke. Finally we were getting this party started.

I was hooked up to the drip and given an epidural, as induced labour can come on very hard and very fast. Although not in my case. I was there for 24 hours and he moved a centimetre. Seriously! I knew it was looking dodgy when the midwife suggested at 3 in the morning that it was best not to eat any more. I think we could all see the writing on the wall. The induction I’d cried for had failed. It would be a C section now. I was a tiny bit gutted as I really wanted to go through the whole process we’d talked about at such length in my NCT group, but actually I just wanted this baby with me and my BP to settle down. Our safety was more important than any beautiful ideal image at that moment and I have never regretted that.

At 9am on 2nd April (yeah I know – I think Oscar hung on for fear of being born on April Fools Day!) it was declared that an emergency section was needed and I was in theatre within 20 minutes. I remember the table I was lying on was at an angle so I felt like I was going to fall off. I remember the anaesthetist running ice down my shoulder to see if the spinal block had kicked in yet. I remember Adele and Otis Reading coming on the radio. I remember feeling like I was being jumped up and down on but feeling no pain (which was weird in the extreme). I remember hearing him cry before I felt them lift him fully clear of me. I remember crying and crying and crying with relief. That he was here, that he was strong and that I’d managed to do it. This body I had so much hatred for had kept him safe.

They weighed him and gave him to me, but I couldn’t see his face so had to give him to Ben, so I could take a proper look. He was just so beautiful.

Then they took him away for tests and I started to feel sick. I managed to shout out in time and the quick thinking anaesthetist whacked some anti-emetic in my line. I felt better, but my mouth was unbelievably dry. I was given ice to suck. And then I started to pass in and out of consciousness. I was told after I was in surgery for two hours. I thought I’d been in there less than half that.

Next thing I knew we were back in the delivery suit and beyond happy. All the worry was gone, he was here and he was really strong. Much smaller than anyone had expected at 6lb 6oz, but perfect. 10/10 on both APGAR tests and cute as a button. Although I do recall thinking – blimey hasn’t he got enormous thumbs! He still has today, along with his huge feet!

And that’s my birth story. Obviously I could go on and on. About my time in hospital after the birth, about how my BP practically dropped over night, about the trouble we had with feeding. But I think I’ll leave it there. For now.

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Me & Him

Diary of an Imperfect Mum