Full Time Mother?

Oliver is seven weeks old now and I will be back at work in two weeks. I’m lucky that his dad works midweek days and I work mostly evenings and weekends. I also have close family to help out.

I’ve always been frustrated by women that refer to themselves as “full time mother”. It is even more annoying when they list it on a Facebook profile or even worse, a CV! (Yes that happens!) First of all, why the full time? Is there such thing as a part time mother? Self employed mother? Christmas temp mother? It doesn’t make sense to align occupational jargon with motherhood. It’s not a job. If we insist on using occupational jargon the only word I’d be tempted to use is vocation. It is a calling for most women and most women adapt very well and are therefore ‘made’ for motherhood. (Evolutionarily speaking, aren’t we all? That’s a rant for another day.)

I do not consider myself to be a full time mother. If I were hiring full time staff I’d be looking at offering 40 hours per week. Staff also need 11 hours break in between shifts and shouldn’t work more than 12 consecutive hours and are entitled to a break every 4 hours. Who do I sue? My mothering hours do not match the full time working regulations. I do not clock in and out. I am constantly a mother.

I believe there are two categories of women who refer to themselves as full time mom. You will fit into one of them…

1. This is a genuine belief. Some women seriously liken motherhood to a career. They find it hard and stressful at times. They feel entitled to a break. They feel hard done by if they don’t have a holiday. They like to share the workload. They compare their ‘career’ to other mother ‘colleagues’. They believe that being a mom means you don’t have to go to work.

2. It is a justification. Unfortunately, in our modern society, if you didn’t have a salaried career pre-pregnancy then it doesn’t make financial sense to return to work while you are mothering a baby or even toddlers. If you have an entry level/ minimum wage job you’ll be earning approx £250 per week before tax. That isn’t even a set figure because hourly paid staff are subject to having hours cut or shifts swapped. The statutory maternity pay is currently £136 per week, guaranteed. So you can return to work for a poxy £100 extra and miss valuable bonding time. Oh wait, if you’re at work, who is looking after your baby? If you’re lucky enough to have reliable grandparents or partner that works opposite hours then great, £400 a month is worth it. What is the other option? Daycare! Which will cost around £150 per week. So it really isn’t worth going back to work. (Obviously this is a rough calculation. This is not taking into account any benefits that the mother receives or the fathers employment status.) The point is for a lot of women it isn’t worth going back to work. I feel like many mothers feel they need to justify their lack of employment by listing their ‘job’ as mother because the fact of the matter is, they are unemployed. Once again I will say, value has nothing to do with money! Why should anyone be embarrassed that they’ve chosen to raise their own child? Concentrate on your own life and ignore negative opinions. Ok, if you’ve never had a job in your life and keep having kids to get benefits then maybe be embarrassed about your scrounging state. Normal working class mothers, you don’t have to justify anything. Stop likening motherhood to employment and get on with enjoying it!

I was lucky enough to have a salaried career at 21 and waited until I was 28 to have a child. Personally, I feel your employment status is quite important when you choose to have a baby. There are obvious financial implications, it’s not cheap having a baby. I spent all of my savings in a matter of weeks on baby essentials. You need a stable home and need to be able to pay your bills. Babies aren’t like shoes, you can’t just have one because your friend had one. It is a long term thing and you need to be ready. However, the main reason I will go back to work is I want to be a role model to my children. I want them to learn that we go to Disneyland because mommy and daddy work hard. I want them to learn the value of money. I want them to think about the kind of job they would like when they grow up. I can teach them all of these things alongside my full time job as a bar manager.

10th July 2014.

imageWelcome to the world Oliver Eden-Sangwell. Weighed 8.5lbs born at Birmingham Women’s Hospital at 11.57am. What a lovely little baby he is. He is so perfect, his arrival on the other hand wasn’t so perfect!

I have been very lucky during this pregnancy. I escaped morning sickness, getting fat, minimal stretch marks and basically had a smooth pregnancy with no complaints other than heartburn and dead legs (minor issues really!) So my punishment for being so cool and lucky throughout…. THREE days of labour. Every method of birth attempted!

So this is how he entered the world. For a start, he was due 28th June but decided to make us all wait. I went to bed on Monday 7th July about 11.30pm. By 1.30am- 2am I was awake with horrible back ache, I don’t know why but I knew it was different to previous back aches. I was constantly going to the toilet too and then noticed I was having a show. It was like pink Vaseline coming out of me in bits. By 3am this was all still going on so I decided to have a bath to cure the back ache. It did help a lot. So I was able to go back to bed for a bit. I woke Dave up just before 4am and told him I was going into labour but no need to get up yet, still in early stages. So I managed to get a bit a rest but around 5am ish I was getting mild contractions in my back but fairly regularly probably around every 15 mins. It was only in my back though so I thought, well it’s not proper labour til my stomach contracts! (WRONG!) I discovered how to breathe through them (despite being worried that I can’t breathe when Shell asked me to blow a balloon up about a week before and Dave pointed out I probably should’ve gone to ante-natal classes – trust me, if you have a labour like mine classes will disappear out your head) so yeh it turns out I can breathe and breathed through my back contractions and slept probably two-three hours. I had a midwife appointment that afternoon anyway so I decided to chill out til then so I just rested and kept breathing. My mom came round about 1.30pm and we went to midwife with Dave too. Midwife said I’d made a lot of progress and my cervix was soft and about 2cm dilated so not classed as active til 4cm so just stay home and relax until it’s unbearable.

So I went home and my back kept contracting and I kept thinking any minute now it will move to my stomach and things will really get going. Still no. Watched a bit of TV with a heat pack and hot water bottle and it soothed the pain a bit. Then they seemed to be getting stronger and closer but still all in my back so I thought if I go to hospital they’ll just send me home! So I had another bath and it felt like the contractions stopped, they were just being soothed but it really helped I stayed lying on my side in the bath for ages. Shell came round because she was worried about me so she was giving me advice on how to breath and just chatting. And she liked being in charge of the contraction app! About 9pm the contractions were every 6-12 mins lasting almost a minute but still in my back. Mom, Dave and Shell were all saying go and get checked but I just felt like I’d get sent home. My midwife said every 5 mins is active labour. The pain was getting pretty bad so in the end I agreed to get checked but expected to be coming home. I was checked and was now 3cm, by 10pm! They said it is normal for labour to be this slow. I was going to but sent home but my blood pressure was too high. They kept checking but it wasn’t going down. I was still having bits of bloody show though so I knew that was the cause but they kept me in overnight as it’s a sign a pre- eclampsia so they had to keep an eye on me!

By the time I went up to the ward it was 1.30am, Weds 9th July. I was 3.5cm dilated and still contracting only in my back. They gave me a dose of pethidine to numb the pain so I could sleep. I was knocked out for about 2 hours and then woke up feeling contractions but not pain. Then the drugs started to wear off and about 5am poor Dave was back on back rubbing duties, he must have hardly any skin left! He’s been so nice all along. He slept upright in a stupid little chair, he looked so uncomfortable.

So Weds, I was left on the ward ALLLLL day! Still having painful back contractions but irregular. I’d have them every 10 mins, then every 4, then 15, there was just no pattern. So they knew I wasn’t progressing enough to go to delivery suite. I was starting to get bored and annoyed I felt like they should’ve helped by inducing me or giving me pain medicine or something! I managed to nap through a few contractions though. And I had another bath which helped! I was starting to master the breathing and then the bad ones kicked in, every 5 mins, lasting at least a min each, making me wanna cry each time! So midwife checked me and I was finally 4cm and active labour. So I could finally go and be looked after properly! This was about 2am Thurs 10th July. I went to to delivery suite, I couldn’t go to birth centre as planned because of my BP which meant – no pool! But also meant – better drugs! I said I just wanted gas and air until it was unbearable (that was Shell’s advice)! Dave was so good as my birthing partner, somehow he understood the contractions machine better than the midwives and was telling me when to breath the gas and air in and basically taking most of my pains away. I decided I was going to have pethidine when it got too painful. I didn’t want epidural and the midwives said I was coping well so I’d be ok. So that was the plan. I decided I’d wait til I was examined down below and decided if I’d got to 5cm, I’d have the drugs. They only check every 4 hours to reduce chance of infection so I guess it was around 6ish when they checked. I was SEVEN CM! I was shocked I’d got so far. So I decided to have to drugs. The midwife said I have a high pain threshold because I didn’t even flinch for the injection in my bum. Oh yeh and my contractions were still all in my back, really painful but my stomach felt ok!

I was spaced out after the injection, it was great because I slept through some strong pains. Dave was talking to me and in my head I was having a conversation but apparently i didn’t answer! I think my mom was there by this point but I was so dozy.

Around 10am (I think) he was basically ready to be born, I was fully dilated but had to try different positions to help ease him down. At one point I was quite comfortable but baby wasn’t and the midwife knew the cord was causing problems so she made me move quick! Oh yeh at some point in this drugged stage my waters broke, there was a proper gush it felt so weird!

The midwives were telling me to push and I was doing really well and he was so close. I really was trying but I just felt like nothing was happening! It turned out baby was back to back so he wasn’t coming out easily! They had to call a doctor in who tried to move him but he wasn’t budging so he said I had to go the theatre for forceps delivery. At this point I didn’t care I was saying, “Just get him out it’s taking too long!” He said it might to to emergency c- section if forceps don’t work. The anesthetist came in and was going through the legal consent crap and I was saying, “Can we just do it!” She had to explain everything first! Then I was rushed to theatre and sat up, Dave was in charge of giving me gas and air and I had an epidural and within seconds my stomach down went to jelly then nothing! I could see a reflection in one of the lights and could see them moving my legs but couldn’t feel a thing. They tried forceps but he wasn’t coming out so said they’ll have to c-section. I really didn’t care! My midwife was lovely, sat by me all through explaining what was going on. Dave was sitting there too making everyone laugh! He was finally out and the surgeon lifted him over the little screen and he was really chubby I said no wonder he didn’t fit out of me! They went and cleaned him then brought him over and Dave held him and I was just looking at him. He was perfect. He kept trying to open his little eyes but it was too bright! Then Dave took him to meet the grandparents and I was cleaned up and stitched back together.

I said from the start my body will know what to do when I’m in labour and I think I did pretty well. I handled the contractions for a long time but when it came to pushing I could just feel it wasn’t right, it felt like nothing was happening! When for the previous 3 days I knew something was happening but I just felt like there was no point in pushing. Well I was right because I would’ve been ripped or in real bad pain if I’d forced him out!

But… 3 days later he is definitely worth the pain! He is a perfect little boy. Everybody loves him already. I love being a mom already. I love my little family with Dave and I love my bigger family. He has the best grandparents! Both sets have been so supportive all along and they love him. His aunties have been so good, leaving work early to see me and almost fighting over who gets to hold him! His cousins are going to be so much fun. Jake wants to teach him Geography and patted him on the head and said, “Good boy!” When he farted! And I’ve got so many lovely friends who have been sending lovely messages. Thank you everyone I love my new life as a mom. I’ll keep blogging but probably not once a week!