Laurie, Oscar and Erika

 Name: Laurie 

Children and ages:
Oscar, 2 years 9 months and Erika, 4 months

Location: Ramsbottom

Previous blog entry:

Life since the last blog post: We have acquired a lot more toys and I think if I ever went on Mastermind, my specialist subject would be Thomas the Tank Engine. 

After a year of working part-time, I changed back to full-time and then discovered I was pregnant. 

Then of course, there’s been the arrival of our baby girl, Erika Sophie. My job – working with perpetrators of domestic abuse – since having children has proved more challenging than usual at times; perhaps because I see the world differently now I have a greater responsibility to protect my little people.

Motherhood since last being on the blog: It took me quite a while to get to grips with being a mummy in some ways. Although I think I managed practically really well, my emotions took a while to catch up and the change in lifestyle took a while to adapt to too. Although having two children is a lot busier and more stressful at times, it’s definitely been easier second time around! 

Oscar, and now Erika, continue to astound me and I’m ridiculously proud of the smallest things. As he’s become older and changes and develops more, Oscar challenges me in different ways and I’ve spent a lot of time recently reflecting on my behaviour (when I feel like he’s driving me insane!) and constantly have to remind myself that he’s 2 and I’m 33. He’s allowed to not be able to control his emotions. I’m not!

Although I say that having a second child is easier than the first, it has brought new challenges. I breastfed Oscar easily for about 10 months and it didn’t even occur to me that I might have problems the second time around. But I did, and it was horrific – for the whole family. I had a lot of nipple trauma and several infections, was expressing night and day, attempting to cup and bottle feed (breast feeding directly in the early days was impossible) then it was discovered that Erika had a tongue-tie. The pain was incredible, but not being able to cuddle Oscar or Erika properly and the endless medical appointments slowly and relentlessly chipped away at me. I had to catch myself and remember how lucky I was to have a happy, healthy baby, even though it all felt so terrible at the time.

On reflection it probably would have been beneficial to everyone if I’d have stopped trying to breastfeed much earlier, but in the end I managed to do it, albeit with nipple shields, for 3 months. Just before Christmas, we found Erika wasn’t putting on weight quickly enough and my GP advised a bottle of formula a day. I stopped breast-feeding her as it was at the point where I wasn’t able to give her everything she needed, so the decision was easier as it felt like it had been taken out of my hands. She’s a lovely big fatty now and I’m significantly happier and really enjoying her (and I think I’m being a much better mummy to Oscar too). It is amazing how utterly determined I was to feed her despite all the problems. I guess we’re just pre-programmed to not let anything stop us feeding our babies.

On a positive note, I had a lovely experience of labour this time as I had a home birth. I really didn’t want to have to be induced like the last time, so when I was 4 days overdue I walked up a local hill to get things moving. It worked! Erika arrived the next day. It was very quick and straight-forward (although I was pretty distraught to discover the tube for the gas and air had been left at the hospital!). It arrived eventually luckily. It was so nice to shower at home and get into my own bed with my husband and new baby after it all. The midwives were amazing; supportive and kind and they cleaned everything up and left us to get to know each other. I would really recommend a home birth to anyone considering it. 

Has motherhood changed you?: Motherhood has forced me to change in certain ways. For example, you can’t be selfish. I don’t mean in a negative way, but that it’s rare to be able to put yourself first as a mother. I think overall I am happier since having my children. I don’t know if that’s changed me at all although perhaps I have a different outlook on life now; I feel very lucky to have two healthy, happy children.

Hardest parts of being a mother: Generally, day to day it’s a harder life as you never stop! There always seems to be something to do, a nappy to change, lunch to make… train track to build! Being ill is hard when you’ve got small children too. There have been times when all I’ve wanted is to get into bed and stay there for a day or two but you just can’t – I’m on call 24/7.

Best parts of being a mother: They are MINE! The smiles meant only for me because out of everyone in whole world, they need and want 

me. Those tiny hands on my face or arms around my neck; the small things that are huge. I also love the feeling of being part of a family unit. It’s the best thing I’ve done in my life. 

What you wish you’d known before having children: Actually, I think I’m glad I didn’t know how hard it could be at times; not that it would have put me off but because there’s no point in worrying about what might be. I think first time around it would have been nice to know that when it does get hard, that it’s always a phase and that there’ll be something new and different, be it difficult or wonderful just around the corner.

I wish I’d be told all the answers to being a good mother – but I doubt anyone will ever know that!

Any more advice for mothers and expectant mums: I’m not sure what I said last time, but what I find myself to saying to lots of mums is that they know best. No-one knows your child like you, so trust yourself and you’ll be fine. Also, don’t expect too much of yourself too soon after having a baby. Take time, let people help you and try to enjoy being in the baby bubble. 

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