Motherhood is something I am most proud of, although the road was tricksey. I became pregnant incredibly easily but the keeping the baby was problematic, I miscarried 5 boys in the early stages of pregnancy which was devastating, undeterred I continue trying and thankfully managed to carry 3 daughters to term. For me the 9 months of pregnancy was difficult, I suffered from sickness, low blood pressure (crawling on hands and knees for fear of passing out) and gestational diabetes but the labour side of it was fabulous ~ the process of giving birth was fast, magical and amazing. I was lucky as needed no interventions to help the babies out and so suffered no tearing or damage to my lady parts in the process. The labours were 8 hours, 4 hours then 2 hours, so very quick really, I feel so much for those women who are labouring for days as it is exhausting!
My babies were all completely different, their births were too. My first born came on time, but as she came out her placenta snapped right where it needed clamping and she hosed blood from it all over the ceiling and the midwife delivering her. After hurried conferring they managed to clamp what was left of it instead of needed to sew it and she was passed to me. She was vocal from the very first moment of her birth, and hungry! She fed and cried, cried and fed, keeping the entire maternity ward up throughout the night and the nurses conceded defeat in finding a way to soothe her. She was the cause of fractured nights and myself and The Dave spending alternate shifts on the sofa with her in her rockatot (as she refused to lie flat) gently rocking her to sleep. She fed intensely meaning my boobs were being hoisted out constantly regardless of where I was and in the end, on advice of doctors and health visitors we weaned her a month early ~ bliss ~ much less crying and a happier child. However, sleeping at night was a pain ~ we had to stay with her til she fell asleep, in the end we enlisted help and advice and managed to get her out of her cot into her bed and sleeping alone by 18 months. She was uber bright and could sing “Twinkle twinkle” all the way through at 18 months, was dry day and night by 16 months and walked at 11 months. She is very bright but also has struggles, the reason for this was discovered in her mid teens when we found out she is on the autistic spectrum, she is determined to work with it and not against it.
My second born was very late ~ she didn’t want to come out! So 13 days overdue I was given some prostin gel, just one lot did the trick and the contractions started coming ~ she was a big baby, weighing in at 10lb 5oz but the easiest to deliver. She was the opposite of my first born ~ content, happy, quiet, smiley. First born loved her and became her second mother, which was a huge relief as we were worried about jealousy. There is only 15 months between them and they are now in their late teens, incredibly close. However, Second born was not text book either, she wouldn’t wean onto soft foods so after weeks of trying with the health visitor we had to bite the bullet and go straight from milk to finger foods. To say my heart was in my mouth is an understatement ~ I was paranoid about her choking. Then came the hospital admissions, she had chest infection after chest infection. We spent regular periods in hospitals for intravenous antibiotics, the worst was when she was 5 and she had pneumonia which really floored her and has left her with a scarred left lung and asthma. She now also has other health issues which came later in life and possibly due to the weakened immune system from these earlier issues.
Finally, third born daughter arrived ~ 18 months younger than second born. She was 9 days late and induced with just the one shot of prostin gel as her heart rate kept dipping ~ I had to have my waters broken as they were behind her head, putting huge pressure on it and distressing her. Once they were broken she literally surfed out into the world! Unfortunately my beautiful daughter stopped feeding at 5 weeks and became hugely ill, she had blood in her urine and stools, calcium in her blood, her skin started flaking and peeling and she stopped making any noises. She would go rigid then arch her back and we honestly thought we were going to lose her. The doctors worked hard and although “failure to thrive” we managed slowly to feed her from a cup using soya baby formula and oz by painful oz increase her daily feeds. She spent years in and out of hospitals, tested for all things from cancers, to syndromes and genetic disorders. We still are regular visitors of hospitals as she has further health issues following her weakened immune system but thankfully life is not as frightening as it was back then, she still struggles to eat and gain weight and is a beautiful slender young woman now. Sadly her bowels have never recovered fully and she is being treated as Coeliac with pancreatic insufficiency and so following a gluten free diet and taken Creon tablets to break down fats, which *touches wood, crosses fingers, eyes, legs, toes etc* it’s working! Her sisters adore her and all three are fabulously close ~ when 3rd born was still a baby the other two managed to potty train her with the lure of smarties as a reward!
All three of my daughters have endured struggles with health and mental health in their lives which has resulted in no schooling, home schooling and dropping out of college and schools at different times. They have overcome numerous obstacles, faced loss, grief, pain, illness, stigma and misunderstandings of their issues. They supported each other throughout each hurdle and being in the unique position of not going through the “normal” childhood and teenage milestones they became mature and wise beyond their years. Struggles maintaining friendships due to health issues and being ostracized by some peers was hard, yet through it all they haven’t given up or succumbed. They continue to strive to get better, plan futures and work on their demons which makes me proud beyond description.
During their upbringing I have been criticized by some for my parenting technique. I believe in freedom of expression, experimentation, and exploring who you are without boundaries. I let them wear what they liked, colour their hair any shade of the rainbow, pierce themselves wherever and have tattoos (via reputable practitioners). We had open discussions with them about sex, drugs, death, sexuality, alcohol, rape etc. No subject was taboo, we believe that if a child asks a question then it should be answered honestly. I will not lie to my daughters, at times I am tactless and too brutal with my honesty but they “get” me and know it is not intended to be cruel. I will take on board their opinions and views and try to see everything from their viewpoint as well as my own ~ although there are times when we have to agree to disagree.
I am exceptionally proud of my daughters, I love their individuality, their strong will, determination, zest, feisty sassiness, the admission that they aren’t perfect and don’t want to be. It is our imperfections that make us who we are, let’s not apologies for our flaws but embrace and own them. They strive to do the best they can, live their life to empower others and themselves, help others whenever possible and try to not deal out hate (although this comes with age and experience, it is hard for a teenager not give rebuttal to someone slandering them). They aren’t quitters, despite their limitations and restrictions caused by mental and physical health issues. They look outside the box to find solutions and make plans with contingency plans for their futures.
Parenting doesn’t come with a manual, each child is unique and what works for one will not work for another. I have just gone with my gut instinct and core belief of what is right and wrong. I think it is very important to give guidelines for them to follow but with flexibility to step in whichever direction calls them to experiment and grow .
I have to admit though that as they are becoming young women and entering adulthood that letting go is so very difficult. For me they will always be my babies no matter what age they are. I still fret about them and whitter on about whether they are eating enough, getting the right vitamins, is their phone charged, have they got enough money etc. My first born is going to Russia soon with her boyfriend, the first trip abroad not with ourselves or school. I am terrified because I have no control to help or guide her. She loves the history of Russia, is studying the cold war and is fascinated by communism. This will be a cultural and learning experience for her and one I want her to make the most of and enjoy. However, the entire time she is on foreign soil I shall worry and will be happy when she returns safely home again. Although home is not with us as she is an adult and has her own place, so like I said earlier, not matter what age, she will always be my baby!.
I have no idea where the future will take my girls but I am confident in the knowledge that they have the life skills to succeed in whatever they wish to do. We, as parents, will always be there to support, encourage and back them in whichever venture they wish to pursue. Ultimately, so long as they are happy we are happy.
Here are my fabulous, sassy daughters…