Thursday, 20 February 2014

Things I don't understand - Part 1

1. How I have developed a stoop

One of the plus sides of Bea's ipad is that she makes many, many films - some are charming and some are less so but many of them show you how to make food. Bea, George and latterly Ted have all developed a fascination with the You Tube videos of 'Nerdy Nummies' which is an American woman showing you how to decorate cakes in to various popular characters/themes from the confines of her teeny tiny kitchen. It isn't the most obvious of You Tube sensations for children but it keeps them occupied for many a happy hour and Bea has attempted to recreate the Nerdy Nummies format in many a video. Last weekend as we were making a rather fabulous birthday cake for the lovely Gwen over t'road (who I thought was going to be 86 and we thusly decorated the cake to correspond however she turns out to be 86 and even at that age apparently an extra year matters.....) Anyhoo, Bea was also decorating a batch of cupcakes and was patiently explaining 'to camera' how to cut out coloured fondant and stick it on to the cupcake and when I watched it afterwards I saw that I had made a cameo appearance as I busied myself at the oven in the background. To my total horror I realised that my shoulders were so hunched forward my top was riding up at the back and my head was further away from the rest of my body than it should be. I STOOP. Obviously as soon as I saw it I sat up straight and rolled my shoulders back which bought about a distinct pain in the muscles which I clearly never use as I am always and forever hunched over. I was horrified. I have no idea what has happened to me. I sometimes see those elderly women who are permanently facing the floor because their back has hunched right over and they are no longer able to stand upright. I have felt inordinately sorry for them and wondered what on earth had happened to them - but without realising it I too could very easily become one of their number. (obviously I have no medical background whatsoever and it is probably something to do with arthritis or somesuch but to me they are just people who slouched too much and their muscles 'set' them like that - it is a very plausible explanation).

Immediately I began to wonder why. These are a selection of my explanations:
a. An apologetic stance - being fat is shameful - it is very well documented and the Daily Mail have written endless features about how it does this, that and the other to all aspects of your health, wealth and happiness so I wonder if I have been subconsciously hunching myself over to try and cover myself or bow my head in shame and avoid eye contact with those who have not let their gluttony run away with itself.
b. I am worried my tops are too short and exposing my bulging tummy and I have subconsciously started to bend forward slightly to lengthen the top and therefore avoid exposure.
c. The recent wind and rain has forced me in to a permanent buggy pushing posture where you automatically bend over to force the buggy through the gale force winds and protect your face from the rain.
d. Our worktops are the wrong height and I spend so much of my time standing at them I have had to develop a stoop in order for my hands to comfortably work at their height.
e. Gravity is forcing the weight of my upper torso downwards. My brain, bust and belly weigh an awful lot when combined and my bottom is rather flat so there is nothing anchoring me from the other side - hence my head naturally falling towards the ground.
f. Severe tiredness leading to excessive slouching which in turn led to permanent slouching
g. Hunching over a laptop on my knees
h. Pregnancy (it can be blamed for absolutely everything that ever goes wrong with your body from the moment you conceive - even health professionals agree with me on this - from the dentist to the chiropractor via your GP, when you ask 'but why though' they say - "it's probably the effects of the pregnancy"...)
i. All of the above.

It is so upsetting. I am now making a huge effort to keep my shoulders back and my head up. It feels very wrong and as if I am trying to show off my cleavage (again something I very rarely try to do as I am very conscious of looking a bit 'Ma Larkin' which really isn't the look I'm going for). So, if you see me slouch feel free to yell 'stand up straight' or similar in my direction - I am hoping that standing tall becomes second nature very soon and it has the benefit of making me look taller and slimmer instantly which can only be a bonus.

2. Mumpreneurs

WHY OH WHY are they not just Entrepreneurs - why is there this new hideous word to let the world know that this clever businesswoman/inventor has also reproduced and is therefore different to her non childbearing female counterpart or any male entrepreneur? I understand that there was a sudden boom of 'modern' women who, once on Mat leave from their brain busting jobs, got bored, and decided to invent something/start up a company to 'help make life easier' for parents and therefore because the ideas were started with small babies and the ideas were usually for small babies, I can see that there was an editorial need to distinguish these women as a new 'trend' of entrepreneurs. I understand that whoever invented dribble bibs and those clever towels that I saw on Dragon's Den which allow you to get children/babies out of the bath hands free and cushions to put under you whilst breastfeeding etc - I sort of get why they would be referred to as mumpreneurs BUT it seems that every time I read anything about any woman who produced any offspring then had an idea for a business/product which she happened to start after the birth - suddenly they are only referred to as 'Mumpreneurs' and not simply as an entrepreneur. It BUGS ME. Whatshisface Dyson is not referred to as a Dadpreneur - he has three children. That one from Dragon's Den, Peter Jones - he has FIVE children (according to Wikipedia) - but again no Dadpreneuer moniker for all his clever company start ups. The creator of Ella's Kitchen baby food is a phenomenal success story - each packet tells you that Ella's Daddy started the company because he wanted to make organic baby food free especially for her, free from all the crap but full of taste etc etc etc. Ella's daddy is never referred to as a Dadpreneur as far as I can see. And yet more and more I see interviews with women or I see things on TV when they tell us amazing things they have done and yet crowbar in how they have children as if it is as relevant as whatever amazing thing they are being recognised for. I can't think of a time they have done it for men.  In fact I pretty much get angry at anything with the word 'mum' stuck on the front of it - like we are all a brand of total lemmings who must be all the same. I don't even LIKE the word mum. I HATE it when health professionals dealing with my children refer to me as 'mum' or ask if I'm 'mum'. My hair actually stands on end - although if it was life and death and they were trying to help the child on to the side of life I may be more lenient, but whenever they begin by asking me if I'm 'Mum' or asking if 'mum' would like this or that I immediately hate them and find it hard to like them again. If, from this point forward, I ever invent anything totally life changingly brilliant and become very rich I will take particular pleasure in suing anyone who ever refers to me as a Mumpreneur. (LORD save us I have just put that vile word in to google and there is even a Mumpreneur Directory which is 'fast becoming the ultimate business directory for Mums' WHY, WHY, WHY can't 'we' just use a normal business directory? Why does it all have to be segregated in such a ridiculous way? I have no answers I just beg you to stop using the word as well and let us all hope it dies a death and in 40 years time we can laugh about how silly it all was - like smoking in cars with children as passengers which will now hopefully be made illegal forever more)

3. Hair growth

It would appear that not only does Cybil look and act just like Bea but she also seems to share her follicular challenges. The boys - in particular George - had the most amazing crop of hair when they were young. They both had blonde and curly angelic locks which I only cut when people started assuming they were girls and they were old enough to understand and object. Not so for the girls. It just DOESN'T GROW. 18 months in and Cybs is just like Bea and has a mild scattering of thin dirty blonde hair with a bit of length at the back which basically gives them a mullet. I was constantly asked if Bea was a boy - even dressed in red t-bar shoes and pink dungarees - such was her lack of hair. I was even more aware of it because I felt horrideous guilt over what I had assumed was my part in her lack of hair. The great thing with Cybs having no hair as well means I can finally relinquish nine years of guilt I have been carrying around with me. You see, far from being the 'earth mother' who was a 'natural' as soon as Beatrice was pulled out from my paralysed body through layers of fat, uterine wall and a teeny bit of muscle, I was in fact, a bit of a mess. Dad had died two weeks ago to the day that I came round in a recovery ward in West Suffolk hospital with a nurse who wasn't even aware that I had had a baby, let alone what sex it was or whether she was fit and well. And I was exhausted, bewildered and in pain.

The birth had started off well enough, albeit steeped in grief and misery - far too many people trying to live in mum's house as we all tried to cope with our collective but equally very personal grief. I had got to 8 cms without any pain relief or any serious pain. But then I failed to progress. At the hospital by this point I/we did everything we could to get things going - walking, bathing, walking, bouncing, walking etc. At one point a midwife suggested she could distract my mother and sister and shut the door on me and K so we could attempt nipple stimulation. I told her to leave - I wasn't THAT desperate to get things going. So, eventually they broke my waters, I got in to the birth pool and things again seemed to be going jolly well. They told me to push, I did. I pushed and pushed and nothing happened. They put mirrors in the pool and looked for signs of something. Nothing ever materialised and after quite a while they decided to take me out of my happy place in the pool and lay me flat on my back  - and this is when everything went totally tits up. I screamed and wailed and begged to be shot just to end the agony. They told me that the baby was back to back, had not turned and was therefore not going to be descending down the birth canal anytime soon. From then on all the drugs in the world were administered - including a wonderful epidural. By the time I was hooked up to a syntocinon drip and the contractions were coming thick and fast, the epidural started to wear off and still the baby had made no progress. By this point I had been in hospital for about 18 hours and I was so weak from it all I couldn't sign my name for consent to the Cesarean. I signed a cross. They tried a last minute ventouse in the theatre but to no avail, in a very scary environment with people milling around everywhere I was told that the new epidural wasn't working and I would have to have a general anaesthetic. K was pushed out the room and that was all I remember, luckily, until I came round in the recovery room. Once I was wheeled out of there I was dumped in a ward with a drip in each hand and a tiny baby who I had expected to meet some 20 hours earlier. I was shattered and scared. My sister and K were ordered to leave as visiting hours were over. I attempted to breastfeed. I spent the next three days attempting to breastfeed and recover before being let out to return to mum's house and a house already full with Cupcake sister and her four children who had moved in before all the drama whilst their new home was renovated. Breastfeeding did not work - or not how it should at any rate - she sometimes went on and seemed to be sucking but mainly she screamed and screamed when presented with the boob. I tried everything I could think of to sort it out but nothing was doing. I sat up at night and cried to myself as I had no idea what on earth I was going to do or how I was ever going to sleep again. I assumed it was wind. I assumed it was illness. But two days after I arrived home and five days in to her life, the midwife came to weigh her and she had lost weight - a lot. She had dropped from 7lbs, 9oz to 6lbs, 4oz. It was incredibly upsetting. I had clearly not been feeding her properly. Mercifully on that same day Cupcake sister came to my aid and bought me nipple shields. These were life changing. For the first time in her life Bea had a full feed and came off sated. It was miraculous. I cried in relief. From then on in she gained weight exceedingly slowly but steadily and I eventually relaxed.

A bit. I still had sleepless nights I couldn't cope with and bad days when she cried for no reason but all in all everything was going well. Except for the nagging doubt that I wasn't doing the whole breastfeeding thing 'properly' - particularly as I had been told by a breastfeeding counsellor that I should only use the shields for a few weeks and then 'try to get off them as soon as possible'.  So, by four months-ish I decided to do away with them as they were a total faff and I had assumed that Bea and I were established enough with our feeding that we didn't need them. Unfortunately I also decided that it was about time that I stopped being the size of a house so I also enrolled in Weight Watchers and followed their breastfeeding plan. All was going well and I was confident I finally had the 'hang' of it all. So, after about three weeks on my new regime I went back to the clinic to get her weighed. Yet again I had a nasty shock as it turned out that she had dropped off the all important 'growth chart' and had actually lost weight since I was last there. I was chastised for leaving it so long and told to do something immediately. I felt sick. I went to the shop and bought formula and a bottle and that night K gave her her first bottle which she drained without fuss. She had been starving. Yet again. The GUILT of starving her twice in her short life had made me believe that I had stunted her hair growth. I had decided that her body, so small and frail and hungry, had clearly decided to stop producing hair and once stopped, the follicles never fully recovered. From then on Bea was almost overfed and became totally rotund. Like the Michelin tyre man. She had folds of fat on her folds of fat. I loved it but she remained short of hair until very recently. I have enviously stroked the bunches of girls half her age and yearned for her to need a hair cut etc and it is only in the last few years that we have achieved that. Of course it doesn't help that an older cousin once gave her an unprompted and very unwanted hair cut and then of course she suffered from Alopecia Areata after suffering badly with Chicken pox. So all in all the hair debacle with Bea has affected my mother guilt complex greatly. Now, although I am a tad disappointed that I have another girl with no hair who is often mistaken for a boy I am thrilled to learn that it is clearly something genetic and not something I can be blamed for.  Although I still dont understand why. Why did my boys have loads of beautiful curly hair and my girls only grow an inch of the delicate stuff a year? It is mystifying.

(Part 2 to follow. This is a genius idea, I don't know why I didn't think of it before - keeping to my shorter and more frequent posts resolution - I am just splitting the longer ones in two.  Genius!)

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