National Breastfeeding Week; Our Story so far.

Euan is sixteen weeks this week, and our breastfeeding journey started a few moments after he was born. It’s luckily been, after his initial weight loss, a pretty straightforward journey. Not that it particularly felt that way at the beginning.

I am, as you know a second time mum this time round but it made me none the wiser on breastfeeding. Delilah never took to it, she had a tongue tie and due to not holding out in fear of her losing too much weight I took to pumping and combi feeding for her. Pumping lasted 6 months and then it became too time consuming along with everything else I was trying to do at the time.

This time, I had read up a whole load, I was so much more determined and I knew it was a normal occurance for a newborn to lose some weight a few days after birth (because these are the things they don’t tell you before you have babies). Euan was pretty easy to latch, we didn’t struggle but despite this being the case and havijg our latch checked by every midwife we saw, he lost 9% of his birth weight over the first 2 weeks. We were referred to “the feeding team” who failed to help in the slightest, not even a phone call. It was suggested that I use formula to top up initially to get his weight in check, this bothered me no end. It was however the right thing to do for my boy to help him get started.

Along with pumping after every feed, topping him up with the expressed milk and one bottle of formula every day, we managed to get on track but the help and support was somewhat none existant. Hubs bought formula and heavily suggested to go that way too, which killed me inside even though I knew he meant well. Failure this time round was not so option in my head, so I battled it all. Even my grandmother who had 2 kids herself bluntly ask “why the bloody hell are you doing that?”. I’m still met with “well how long are you going to feed him” to which I now simply say un-flustered, “till he decides otherwise”.

Being stuck to the sofa for weeks with our newborn schedule was tiresome but I was so determined not to give into the formula pressure from all sides. I just knew it wasn’t the end of our journey, I knew formula wasn’t right for us. And because of that I will be forever proud of us for sticking with it, the lack of support has been the hardest thing to get through. For a community of midwives, Dr’s and health professionals I was perplexed at how easy it was for them to all say “formula” despite me being so avid about breastfeeding.

Dont get me wrong, I’m on the side of “fed is best” but I was 1000% sure I wanted to breastfeed my son, so the lack of guidance or help postpartum has been diabolical. Maybe it was just because of lockdown? Postpartum care in fact has been lacking. As an individual I’ve been lucky enough not to suffer with any baby blues or depression despite having a history of mental health issues, but one phone call asking “how are you” in regard to the purely physical aftermath is not enough.

Why are we not looking after new mams?  The lack of care for us mums after this monumental change is possibly the most shocking thing. We’re checked up on at regular intervals over our pregnancy, yet as soon as baby is born we get one phone call and no further check ups. What has your experience been like with postpartum care? Was it the same as mine? What’s your postpartum story?

Going back to breastfeeding, we’ve hit leap 4 and I’m not going to lie I’m finding feedingbcrazy tiring. Euan constantly wants to be feeding. He will not nap and it’s so hard to put him down for even 5 mins. Trying to go for a wee holding a baby is all kinds of hard, pulling up your jeans after is beyond difficult. He naps on boob, as soon as he falls away I’ll try put him down but he will be right awake within seconds most of the time. Mix that with very nearly 4 year old who would like all the attention still, it’s been a rough leap so far. It seems delivery drivers always call when he needs feeding or mid feed too. Typical.

I’d just like to say, to mums (dads) all over, breastfeeding or not, well done! Parenting is hard. Bronze, silver, gold awards for breastfeeding boobies, higher awards or not at all, you are doing amazing things everyday just raising them little humans. As long as they’re loved, fed and cared for you are winning.

I’d love to hear your feeding stories, share them in the comments with us and know that this is a judgement free, safe space.

Love,
L, xox

Mood: A Lockdown Pregnancy

Let’s talk lockdown pregnancy.

I got pregnant July last year, and listening to government guidelines we were full expecting to have been out of lockdown shortly after. As months came and left just as quick, lockdown was reinstated.

Even as an introvert the news on Halloween was dread inducing. We debates about pulling Delilah out of nursery just because hubs is classed as high risk with being type 1 diabetic, and with me being pregnant too. It was a real debate.

I’d been working on flexible furlough since maybe August when I had gone back after the first lockdown. Every thing came to a stand still yet again. I was back on furlough at 3 almost 4 month’s pregnant. As much as I felt safer having less chance of collecting any of the nasty bugs as we refer to them in our house, I also felt isolated.

The majority of my besties are at work, the girls I finally clicked with and have the best relationship with. I cherish the relationships I have with each one of them, because I’ve simply never had that group of friends to turn to. I’m a one on one person normally. I have, I would say two very close bestest besties but even then we go weeks and months without talking sometimes. This works for us. My work besties, pre-lockdown, I saw every other day if not every day. So to be away from that friend/adult/coworker contact and not be able to share my pregnancy with pretty much anyone outside my household was hard.

Pregnancy was hard without peers to make me feel like I was normal. The contact once we all got put on furlough again slipped as it does/would with everyone. We all have our separate lives, our families because we’re all mums, and we all have different situations that take up our time so naturally our chat slipped. It just meant going through it without them, which makes me a little bit sad to be honest. These girls helped make my hen do good after the shit show it started out being, they turned up the morning of my wedding to help me celebrate even though they couldn’t be there at the actual event, to not be able to share this pregnancy with my besties is just a little bit crap. Okay, not a little bit. More like a monumental amount of horse shit.

Being an introvert I have the tendency to withdraw from social situations as it is, and with a full year of being home alone with a toddler 85% of the time I’ve become accustomed to dealing with everything alone. Don’t get me wrong I see hubs every day when he gets in, but he’s knackered and there’s no way he’s going to understand the utter tribulations of the day. A small girl saying “mummy” 3986 times a min every day, or how touched out you get from having a newborn feeding from you every 30mins on a cluster feed day. Mum friends get it. But I, like every other pregnant and stay home mums have not had that over the last year. It has damaged my relationships. To what extent, I’m not sure yet. I will certainly try my best to step away from my introverted tendencies once it’s through and try and rekindle paused friendships.

Hubs worked pretty much the full lockdown. He had a couple of weeks in March after the NHS sent a very late letter saying he should be isolating. I was so thankful for the adult company and the extra pair of hands near the end of our pregnancy. Delilah loved having Daddy all to herself too when he was home. More time to play and hottub together. She misses him like crazy when he’s working his long weeks and not getting in till six sometimed later most evenings.

We made the decision to pull Delilah from nursery at the back end of 2020, so I feel like lockdown has in away been impact full on her social life too. Where she was making friends at nursery, she’s now been out of the childcare/early years settings for (by the time school rolls round) 9 months. She will also be the youngest in her class. I’m a little worried it will put a blocker up for her in regards to making friends and school and just coping with the fact she’s there every day. I think there will be an adjustment period, a hard one and I hate that it is that way for her. Don’t get me wrong she’s the most friendly and social little miss ever, we only have to pass the park with another child in and she’s made a buddy. I know she’s going to catch up qns probably surpass some kids in her class as she’s very confident socially, but mum’s worry. It’s my job to have cogs constantly turning in prep for any situation for her, trying to prepare her, even just getting her saying please and thank you without having to ask her.

Once Delilah is in school, Euan and I will be embracing whatever is on offer in terms of baby classes. I feel like I need it this time, I never did with Delilah. Its been so long between seeing others in my peer range I do feel like I need to get out there and make mummy friends for sure.

I felt like I was duped this pregnancy. I feel like I missed out on a lot. The appointments were slashed more than in half, I think I⅔ had maybe 4 my entire pregnancy. Sharing with family and friends, a baby shower or get together. People, minus a little handful ended up being not interested, and that’s okay I guess we all had our things going on; but if there hadnt had been lockdown the outside interest would have been there. I might be an introvert, but it would have been nice to have that little acknowledgement I guess. A kind of break for myself was out the window at any point. Any kind of break for hubs and I was certainly out the window too, although luckily we did get out anniversary night away when lockdown had ever so slightly eased back in October.

So yeah, lockdown pregnancy wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. It was hard, some days more than anyone will ever care to know. I am however thankful for the extra time I got with Delilah, the weeks Hubs was out on furlough and the bond with my newborn which I probably wouldn’t have had if it hadn’t have been for c-19. There are always silver linings!

I feel like this has been a bit of a moaning post and I’d rather keep positive on my social platforms. On the other hand, I also feel like it’s the truth and worth noting down even if its just for me to read back and remember how it was.

Have you had a lockdown pregnancy or birth? What was your experience?

Sending love,
L, xox

Eternally Formal in a B.O Ridden Waiting Room

Thursday was the day I had to go to The Job Centre to confirm my claim for universal credit (oh the joy). I was dreading this little visit. Thursday was a hugely busy day and this was my least preferred part.

The location – Parking and walking through a down trodden part of Bradford was not my idea of a good time to start off with. The Job Centre is located on Manningham Lane; for those of you who don’t know this part of Bradford I strongly suggest you don’t take a trip there unless necessary. Everything looks scruffy, filthy and well past its best. It’s like the sun got sucked out of the sky and your soul is slowly being consumed by a black hole that waits and feeds on all glimmers of possibility. I’m so very glad that I had care for Delilah on Thursday, I will aim never to take my child to this soul destroying place.

I’ve only ever been to The Job Centre once before. I felt exactly the same the first time, this being four year ago when I found myself redundant for the first time round. I had dressed as I would for an interview, but most people in the vicinity looked as though they had rolled out of bed and not showered for at least three weeks. People wearing tracky bottoms, looking like they had taken a dump in their slacks and carried on regardless – the smell from some would confirm this to be true. The gentleman who decided to take the seat behind me (we were practically back to back) had an odour so strong I had to strategically place the back of my hand under my nose and over my mouth so as not to breathe in the stench. The rancid smell of body odour was the thing I remember the most from the last time I had to make the visit. The thing of nightmares.

“Stay positive” I kept telling myself “It will be over soon – you’ll have a job by next week” My pep talks got me through the wait as did the thought of the two interviews I would sit that very day. I was feeling decidedly overdressed at the start, but convinced myself that I would never turn up to any interview in anything less that formal business attire and this should not be any different, even though the rest of ‘the Job Centre Crew Massive’ looked like death warmed up. Even the email concerning the time of my ‘appointment’ called it an interview. First impressions are important after all!

I was utterly determined they would not treat like a twirp, and went in ready to fight back and burry the potential insultee with words. The last time I was there I was told I was over qualified so they couldn’t help me. Let me clarify that I was out of work for a grand total of two weeks, and the claim I put in (just in case) for job seekers allowance was rejected because ‘I hadn’t contributed enough national insurance’. This was an absolute joke of a comeback as I have been working and paying national insurance since I was 16. I know people walking straight out of school at 16 claiming everything and anything they could, but I couldn’t even claim JSA regardless of working my entire workable life. Anyway back to Thursday, I was finally called forward (ten minutes later than my stated interview time) and the woman who I sat with was lovely. She didn’t talk down to me which was my major concern and led me through what would happen after going over the obligatory security details.

As we were sat discussing the bits we need to, there was rather a large hoo-ha outside the neglected building we exist in. As in noise, plus police sirens. Well that was comforting – at least there was police sirens. The woman turned to her co-worker and said “wonder what drama we’ve got today?” I’m sat there thinking that that statement means it happens on the regular and I would rather be almost anywhere else but here. She swiftly bid me farewell after that exchange and I cautiously left the building feeling pretty relieved that this particular interview, in this particular place was over.

Walking back to the car, I had no desire every to step in that hole again. As I drove off of Manningham Lane, the darkness lifted and the sun peeped through the grey clouds. The sun was magnificent, all ready for my interviews that afternoon and evening.

Job interview #1. Yes, this was just outside central Leeds. I’d planned where I would park, drove there with plenty of time to spare. The car park I had planned to park in was rammed. There was no way in hell I was getting in there. So I Google mapped it to the nearest car park. I ended up in Leeds city centre. Which while driving, is my idea of hell. I am far too impatient and full of road rage to deal with a city centre I just don’t know – most especially on my way to an interview. I spotted an on street parking spot, abandoned the car and threw money in the machine.

I set of walking. This idiot had only parked a 25 minute walk away from where I was interviewing. Would have been okay, but my little detour into the city had cost me time. I had 17 minutes to walk a 25 minute walk. I called and let the appropriate parties know, but I hate being late and having to follow Google maps on foot is stressful. The clock in the top right hand corner of your phone screen getting ever closer to the time you are supposed to be there, the map counting down clearly outside the time scale you should be working to. The walk was allllll up hill, and I’m not even talking a little hill. I’m talking like a really steep hill. The kind you would cycle up if you were in training for The Tour De Yorkshire. Realistically I should have grabbed an Uber to my location to save me the stress, and by the time I got there I felt like I had lost 90% of my bodily fluids. I never sweat, I sparkle. I had a very sparkly face. I was completely blessed that I had thrown flip flops in my bag as well as wearing heels. Flip flops were my saving grace at this point.

Got to the entrance of the building I had been told to go in. There was only a bunch of construction stuff going on right outside it. I couldn’t use that door. I walked back on myself to the last door I saw, threw on my heels and started to wander the corridors of a huge, huge building. I was so in the wrong place. I talked to some guy behind a desk who looked at me as though I had just landed my spaceship on his cat, but he managed to get a hold of the lady who was interviewing me even though it seemed like I was in the entirely wrong place. Once in the company of the interviewer things looked a little brighter.

SO as you can tell, this particular part of Thursday was highly eventful, and it all happened before 1pm. I was so very pleased to get home to Delilah. I missed her the entire morning I was gone. It felt like forever being so away from her. The latter half of the day went swimmingly with no mishaps or parking errors getting to the second interview. Here’s to next week when I should know how it all went in their opinions.

XOXO, L

The Motherhood Penalty

It has come to my attention that The Motherhood Penalty is an actual thing.

There was me thinking I was the only one struggling with being made redundant on maternity leave and struggling to find a career to suit me now. The thing is, it isn’t just me. The Motherhood Penalty is REAL. We’re talking real pay gaps for mums in comparison to a non- parent counter parts, less promotion opportunities, held to higher punctuality standards than others. We are less likely to be suggested for hire than a less qualified woman without children. Just have a read at a few stats here (http://gap.hks.harvard.edu/getting-job-there-motherhood-penalty). Before you start, I know this article is full of American stats; but it is applicable for the UK and most likely a bunch of other countries too. There are plenty of other articles on the subject too. Read them, I implore you.

The last time I was made redundant I was in a new role within two weeks. This time, I’m 3 years more experienced. This time, I’m a mum. This time, it’s almost been a month already. As a society, it is our job to change this. As a mother who wants it all, it’s my job to hunt what I want down. Why should we settle for less than our counter parts? Those who choose to be dog owners are not penalised for their life choice, yet you have a child and that’s it. You certainly can’t have a career AND a family. You most certainly can’t do them both at the same time, let alone do them well. You must pick. You must pick one or the other. You can only be good at one thing – Family OR work.

That’s where I’m saying it needs to change. We are stuck in an archaic time. The stay at home mum suffers prejudice. It can be seen as old fashioned, lazy, and unattractive. “Gain a baby, lose a brain” this attitude spills out on to the mother who wants or needs to work, making it increasingly difficult to get back in to work. On the other hand, mothers who choose to have a career are classified as uncaring, lacking maternal instinct and cold. Working mothers have it hard. The guilt of having to pay someone else to help raise their child. Then there is the pay gap between them and their childfree counterparts, not to mention the problem of sourcing reliable and trustworthy childcare.

We have come so far with equality yet we are still stuck with The Motherhood Penalty. For some reason the work world thinks that us mum’s supposedly stray from competency after birthing a child. In actual fact we gain a whole lot more than we ‘lose’ (the only think I lost is my size 6-8 waist). We go through the most incredible process of carrying, giving birth, feeding and caring for a new born infant that relies on us for everything. There are sleepless nights and long busy days that follow including numerous visitors who want to put their grubby hands all over that precious new born, which you in turn have to politely but firmly warn off (which is a new skill gained for a start).

Mums are the most amazing creatures on this planet; and it’s about time that companies realise that if we choose a child adorned life, we probably have more to offer after having our child/children than we did before. We are peacekeepers, cooks, cleaners, mediators, matriarchs, admin assistants, PA’s, nurses (in the most relaxed sense of the word), transportation co-ordinators, activity planners, risk assessors, the photographer, the personal shopper and stylist, the confidante, the politician, the dietician, the CEO and the fucking skivvy. We are the whole god damn package, and some of us even stay up late to work on our passions too.

So keep up work world; we’re ready for equality amongst mothers in the work place. Let’s hope my new role (whatever it maybe) is up to speed.

Confident Kisses,

XOXO, L

The Reality of Redundancy – The 2nd Edition

I took a break for a while from blogging with the full intention to come back. Initially it was for other writing. I was concentrating on a new novel idea when I had the steam to do it. More recently things came to a head with my work situation. I was made redundant (as if you haven’t already guessed that from the post title). My professional contacts are aware now, as are my family and friends.

So I find myself two months away from my 30th birthday and I am redundant for the second time. I am a new mum finding it hard to come to terms with the fact I’m going to have to pay a lot of what I will potentially earn to childcare. I cannot get my head around it. I’m going to work (when I find my vocation) to pay someone else to look after my child. I find this a difficult concept. I love spending time with my little one. It’s been amazing getting to be with her, and watch as she has developed.

Let me get one thing straight, I want to work. I am ready to find my career, to rock it like the boss I actually am. I’ve never been one to shy away from hard work, I’m organised, and I thrive in an office situation where I can be in control, but have a little friendly banter. I work best when I’m left to it and I like feeling that I have contributed to something bigger. I love to see projects through and I can’t wait to get back into work.

Why Me? – This is the questions that runs on repeat in my head, and if you’ve ever been in the redundancy boat you’ll know exactly what I mean. I feel like in administration I’m on the most at risk list from the start. Working in a smaller family run business is where I found my place and each of the small family businesses I’ve worked for made me redundant. So what? Am I cursed? I am ready to have a little job security over here!

If you’ve been in the boat you’ll most likely agree – they say it’s not personal; but when it’s you losing your job, your income, the people that you considered a second family because you spent that much time with them and the fact you actually liked, no scratch that, LOVED the job you had; it is personal. Not for them, not for their business but for you. Redundancy is a highly emotional process and it hurts. Going into it the second time round is no easier than the first.

The Job Hunt – When you put out feelers on LinkedIn and on Facebook. LinkedIn was utterly helpful. I got a ton of hits on my profile, lovely messages of support and potential job leads. I even got a beautifully comprehensive email saying that I would be the perfect candidate for a position, the only thing in that director’s way of offering me the job was the fact I’m based at the other side of the country. Relocation is not an option, although the email was a perfect booster for the bashed ego and I appreciated the email, most especially on a down day.

Putting feelers out on Facebook was somewhat of a mistake. As soon as I did, I was tagged in cleaning jobs, shelf stacking work and weekend jobs – don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the sentiment behind the tags. AND I really don’t mean to sound ungrateful, or snobby but I have a degree and over 6 years of office experience under my belt. I am not starting at the beginning again. There are nothing wrong with these types of jobs, but I’ve been there before and I got stuck in retail straight out of uni and I’m trying my best to avoid it. It’s just not my thing. I really want something that can grow into a career for me.

Job sites, brilliant for searching. Employers sometimes don’t get back to you, or they take an eon and this can be really demoralising. It’s okay if you’re only applying for a couple of things. BUT when you are on full out on hunt a job down mode and you’ve done a bazillion applications for administration based rolls and one person calls “I’m calling about the admin role you applied for” … Take it from me, even if you’ve kept a spreadsheet of everything you’ve applied for (yes, guilty) it’s still difficult to keep track when someone calls with that opening.

Recruiters – I know them. I’ve worked with them. I’ve used them to get hired before. In the most part they are great at their jobs – it is slightly annoying when they call with a perfectly interesting role. They sell you it, it sounds perfect and then they add (after signing you up for an interview) that it’s full time hours even though it clearly states in your CV and your profile that you are looking for PART TIME to fit round the family. It’s the ‘Oh I’m sorry’ or the ‘Never mind’ that gets you in the gut and makes you second guess what you can get out of a new role if you only want part time. And all because they didn’t read your requirements. Come on you brilliant people, you’ve got the gift of the gab but the research side of things could use some work. I guess us (the applicants) are just numbers and a hefty commission cheque for the recruiters, but again this IS personal – I AM NOT JUST A NUMBER.

The Network Marketing Draw – We all know I’ve dabbled in network marketing. I played with Jamberry and did well with it for a while, and I’ve been signed up with FM world since March time but I haven’t really pushed it. I keep thinking I should give it more of a go. A lot of people fake it to seem like they are making it in network marketing and that’s really not my style. I don’t fake. I’ll have to give it a shot as a hobby and remind myself it’s certainly not a vocation for me. It can provide lucrative if you are that way inclined, but I don’t feel like it’s for me at this moment in time.

Thinking Positively – That’s what all the guides say. Stay positive. It’s just a newly opened door for a better path.

This is all good, but I’m having down days and up days. Yes, it is important to stay positive but the reality of this is it’s not so easy in practice. On paper it is, but battling the internal monologue is the difficult bit. Especially on redundancy number two. Again the thought process of “Why Me?” springs up.

I am using this opportunity to go for something to suit me and to grab a new beginning with both hands. I am ready for a fantastic career, I am ready for the financial abundance that is coming with my new vocation and I am thankful for the opportunities that are waiting for me. The skills that I have accumulated from my work means I can apply for a more senior position. I get to choose which direction I want to take my career in next. I am excited to see where this path takes me.

So that’s where we are, a totally mind dump of a post. I hope you are all well, and I cannot wait to catch up with your blogs. As always, thank you for reading you beautiful creatures – I am eternally grateful for my audience.

All the positive vibes.

XOXO, L