Monday, 21 July 2014

My Superman

It has long been documented that having a baby inevitably puts a strain on your relationship. To think that some couples have a baby in order to try and save an ailing union is beyond baffling; if you can't make it work when the sea is calm, how on Earth do you expect to push through when you're skint and sleep deprived, with another human sharing your bedroom?

My relationship, however, has always been the stuff of legends. Adam and I were one of those couples that single people would look at and say: "that's what I want". The best of friends before becoming lovers, we also had an incredibly solid foundation to our marriage and had already overcome some pretty big obstacles. With all that in mind, I couldn't see how creating a human that was half him, half me could make our bond anything other than even more awesome. 

Not only was I smug, I was incredibly foolish. Having Blake is the single most wonderful thing that has ever happened to either of us, but it has also been the most difficult.

Retrospectively I can see that I have suffered a little (ahem) with some pretty low emotions since he arrived; something that I have relentlessly held Adam to account for. I am the happiest and most fulfilled I have ever been in my entire life, yet I have still somehow felt inexplicably sad a lot of the time. Sometimes this black cloud would hang over me for days on end and, rather than try and shake it off myself, I have found myself wondering why my husband hasn't tried harder to make it all better. He fixed me before, I thought, why isn't he fixing me again? Unfair, of course, as most of the time he hasn't had the slightest clue what's going on in my head. Rather than attempt to actually speak to him about it, I just snapped at him and resented him for stupid things, and basically tried to drive him away. 

Having a baby also takes its toll on your finances. This has never been an area that I've felt particularly in control of at the best of times, so suddenly finding my income halved has had some pretty dire consequences, which has naturally had an enormous impact on life at home. Suddenly we're scrabbling about, trying to pay a mountain of bills on what amounts to little more than a single salary. Of course, the pressure is falling onto Adam as the only one earning to try and make the ends meet, and he has naturally found it incredibly frustrating. This frustration has seeped into conversation on more than one occasion, with both of us feeling like we're barely keeping our heads above water and taking it out on the other person.

Speaking of frustration: anyone seen my libido recently? It walked out of the door when I got pregnant, and full time breastfeeding has kept that door bolted shut should it have the audacity try and sneak back in. Sex isn't everything in a relationship, but by golly it's a big part. It's not the actual lack of sex that really began to take its toll (Adam has been incredibly patient), but more the lack of intimacy. I know that's what I've missed anyway, and at times I've felt like we were pretty much back to being just friends again.

Blake is nearly seven months old now as I write this, and Adam and I are just starting to feel like our marriage is getting back on track. My sex drive is slowly returning and I've made a few changes to my life in general that mean my priorities are back as they should be. Our money situation still sucks, but my return to full time work is imminent and we're beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. In short, I think we both feel a little more in control, which has made room for the love to return. Discussing this noticeable change a few days ago, Adam admitted to me that he had assumed our relationship was all but over, and still he stayed. Desperately unhappy, and under the assumption that my heart was no longer in it, he still held his ground, adamant to not be the one who calls time on what was once nothing short of an epic romance.

To the man himself, I say this: The last few months are just another page in our love story; yet another example of how, together, we can weather just about any storm. I'm sorry things have been so difficult, but I promise you that I was never going to give up on what we have. You are, and always have been the one. Every single day I fall in love with you afresh because you continue to save me in ways that you can never know. 

You are my Superman. I love you x

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Woeful Weaning: Introducing Solids the Meaney Way

It turns out I have spent the last six months in a false state of feeding security. I knew where I was and what I was doing; breastfeeding had quickly become second nature and I'd even managed to get to grips with pumping for work. Yep, I thought, I've got this motherhood thing nailed. Then we began weaning and it blew my little breastfeeding bubble apart. All of a sudden I'm in unfamiliar territory again, trying to navigate my way through the murky waters of uncertainty and worry, and it's brought with a kind of delayed post-natal low mood (didn't you hear? PND has been downgraded so as not to offend babies or some shit).

The current fashion advice is to follow the baby led weaning technique: that is, to just throw them in the gastronomic deep end and serve them lumps from the off. No purees, these babies need to learn how to chew

"Just give him whatever you're having," said the health visitor. 

Well, that's all very well, but if I was to feed Blake the way I feed myself then it would involve waiting until he's about to faint before remembering to feed him, and then offering him a handful of biscuits or a pizza. Here's the thing, you see: I'm not actually very good at feeding myself. It's not that I can't cook, I can, I just don't really remember to eat until it's a matter of urgency and then I need something immediate; usually resulting in a bit of a junk binge. On a good day, I'll sort of vaguely graze from the treat cupboard until dinner time, when Mr Meaney will inevitably take over in order to introduce a food group other than 'pastry'.

As a result, I've found that I'm worse than clueless when it comes to feeding Blake. The whole thing is exacerbated by the fact that I'm bombarded with images, videos and tales of the latest homemade spinach and bacon dauphinois potato fritters (or something) that have been successfully ingested by other babies Blake's age. Not being particularly good at remembering to cook clean, healthy food, I have turned to (shock horror) Hipp Organic jars of food. I know, right? I'm a fucking terrible parent. 

As well as the jars (boo, hiss), we've also been offering fruit and salads, bread, cheese, cereal, yogurts, and just about everything has been met with initial enthusiasm and then complete disinterest. He was keen on the jars for about a day, until he realised what was going on. He began weaning with an enduring love for cucumber that now gets thrown across the room. Fruit was offered in a mesh feeder that he adored, on one sitting he ate quarter of a mango, but he won't even pick it up anymore. In fact the only thing that he seems to get excited by is water. It doesn't particularly help that he is cutting the world's slowest tooth and can't get to grips with chewing. You know what happens when you give a baby that can't chew a piece of tomato? They choke.

"Stay calm. If they're making a noise then they're not choking, they're just gagging," more golden advice from the health visitor. 

I tried to stay calm a couple of times, but the noise never came and Blake would inevitably start to turn purple. Cue a slap on the back and some projectile vomit. Seriously, it's no wonder the boy isn't keen. I think it's probably a testament to me, but he also has absolutely no intention of giving up (or even cutting down) on the breast milk intake any time soon.

I know he is getting some solid food; mostly because his poop has begun to stink and his weight gain has suddenly spiked enormously, but I'm just finding the whole thing to be a little bit soul destroying. I feel inadequate because I'm not spending the entire day creating grape and goats cheese pin wheels (or something), and then worried that Blake will never eat and will end up like me as an adult: alternately forgetting about food and then raiding the nearest freezer. On the other hand, with every piece of food that he refuses, I'm glad it's not something I spent hours creating.

It gets easier, right?