Inigo is OK.

Still skinny – he is still 5.06kg, which he has been hovering around for the past five weeks, but the tests were pretty much clear.

The urine test showed possible contamination, so we have done a re-test (it was my cleaning Emily!), but she is pretty sure it will be fine. The other thing that we discussed is his iron levels – they should be between ten and thirty. At seventeen, the paed thinks it should be a little higher.

So tomorrow I am off to get another foul tasting liquid to give him twice a day to make up for the reflux meds that he isn’t taking any more (with no noticeable change in behaviour).

And I’m to wake him up for an 11pm feed – hopefully feeding him once more per day will start to make a bit of a difference to his weight.

He grew more than a centimetre in the 10 days since she last saw him, and his head got bigger too. He’s bright and active and alert, and apparently shows early signs of being a challenging toddler.

Hopefully, by the time he’s a toddler he won’t look like a chuppa chup any more.

So, on to me.

This last few weeks has been rough on me. Hearing that my little guy doesn’t have some foul wasting disease has been a huge weight off my shoulders, and also knowing that it’s not my fault is good too. Of course the first thing that you think of with something like this is that you have done something to cause the problem. Rationality is next to impossible.

In the last week I’ve tried feeding him more, feeding him more often, and obsessed about every little thing. Nothing made the slightest bit of difference, except that he spewed more and was grumpier. He is still 5.06kg.

Mum has been worried too. Unfortunately she chose tonight to grill me about my diet, and I wasn’t capable of hearing any criticism tonight. Then Mark had a grump at me when I asked him to put away his laptop and play with his son.

And I realised, with a crashing thud, that I have unrealistic expectations.

I realise that I won’t have a body like Kate Moss six weeks after I had a baby. Especially since I didn’t have one before.

I realise that having a clean house is something that is almost impossible to maintain at a high level once you have a child sharing your space. Especially since I was somewhat of a grot before.

I realise that I won’t always have perfect communication with my partner or my mother, they won’t always understand what I need unless I tell them, and there are some things about them that I will never understand. This one is something I have got better at, but we can all use some work in this area, right?

Now here’s what I don’t really get. I don’t get why a woman of my generation, who is supposed to “have it all”, is still controlled by guilt and fear of exposing a less than perfect underbelly. My mum had help from her mum in raising my brother and myself, and it’s her expectation that I will need help too. She wants to help. She has arranged to take time off from her highly stressful, very well paying job to help me clean up baby vomit. She offers to help all the time.

So why can’t I say yes?

Because women all over the country, and the world – my peers, don’t have help. They work full time, they clean their own toilets, they raise kids and they cook meals. They may be stressed, and they may be medicating their way through each and every day (or they may cope without pharmaceutical help, who knows), but they do it. And I don’t even have a job.

And when I ask Mark to help out with housework, I wish I didn’t feel that it’s unfair of me to ask him to do it after he’s been at work all day. That’s just plain stupid. He works for 8 hours a day, I’m on call for 24. He can have a bad day at work and break some code, if I have a bad day at work the consequences can be much worse.

So though I usually have a pretty healthy self esteem, there is something about this motherhood gig that raises the stakes, it not only makes us care more, it also makes us more vulnerable to self criticism.

My thinking brain knows that Inigo is a lot of work, and that if I don’t get some help I might not be able to cope in the long term, and yet I still feel like I don’t deserve help, that I should be able to welcome Mark home every night to a gourmet meal and a happy smiling baby.

The reality is that even if other women can cope, I can’t. And some help would be great. I just wish I could believe that I deserve it, that accepting it doesn’t make me a failure, and that Inigo will have a much better life if his mother gets a little R&R.

And now I am going off to have a little cry. Tomorrow will be better.

21 thoughts on “Inigo is OK.”

  1. How do you KNOW that other women cope? Huh? It’s just that most of us don’t really talk about it. In the first few months I actually started getting my affairs in order, if you follow. (And I’m not exaggerating.) It’s a tough gig! And not an intellectual one: it’s an emotional rollercoaster. It’s perfectly normal to feel like a revolting, flabby, copping-out failure. It will get better. 🙂

    One thing that I find helps me to judge how I’m going is to ask: if this was a friend of mine telling me this as it happened to them, what would I say to them? At a guess you’d be saying rational, loving and supportive things to someone else in your situation.

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  2. As you know, I’m not an expert of raising babies! But I do know quite a bit about accepting help if it’s offered, particularly when it’s offered with the best of intentions, which I’m sure your mother’s is. She’s raised 2 children and knows only too well I would imagine that you need a bit of a break. I also know that I would also find it difficult to accept help from my mother. Even at my age, she can still reduce me to tears. You are NOT a bad mother, you are NOT abnormal, and you ARE a great woman, but you’re not Superwoman. Bring your knitting needles and Inigo over to me tomorrow and we’ll see if we can make the day better.

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  3. I can make you feel better. I haven’t got a job, or a baby, and I can only gte the place looking REMOTELY respectable (and I do mean remotely) by having Clare phone when she’s 20 mins away on her bike. I keep leaving loads of laundry in the machine and having to wash them again. I can’t make sure there’s food in the house for 2 un-picky adults.

    And I’m not even doing anything else!

    So glad Inigo is ok – not surprised (because he seemed ok to me, and to Clare who is v good at this stuff), but VERY pleased.

    Lots of people have help, and it’s not a competition. But I so get what you’re saying about not showing neediness. Much easier to be the one to be helping other people cope with hard stuff than to face needing help yourself!

    Anyway, me and Inigo are going down the pub while you watch Robyn Nevin next week. That’ll put hairs on his chest.

    BTW, I went to a ‘subscriber briefing’ there today, and apparently Cate had a baby this am – called Ignatious!

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  4. Oh my dear!
    This is what about EVERY woman comes overtaking! Me, too, of course. Beeing 24 hours on call IS the hardest job of the world. That IS the true and not just a moaning. Take your help, you don’t have to be ashamed. I have realized after 2.child was born: HELP!! Just ask for!! Otherwise I would have gone down, down, down, creeping over the ground and never get back to all my power. Educating children is the most exhausting job in the world.
    And all the women who tell you, it is easy, they are lying!!!!
    Now, indeed, after 3.child, i HAVE my time-outs, i TAKE my hours ONLY for me, and i don’t hesitate to plug in the kids into the bed at evening VERY early to have my privat zone.
    Lara: Cry a little bit, yes. But then, stand up and call your mum for help. One day in week a few hours- and you wil come back, soooon 🙂
    Best wishes from Germany, where it is all the same, Eva

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  5. Darling,
    So tough on yourself! I’m throwing out another offer of help anytime. My skills include: Baked goods, vomit cleaning and Lebanese sweet eating.

    Mijal

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  6. Supermum probably finished the day with a Prozac and nerve wracking guilt about something.

    You’re not a failure. You are a loving, caring mum, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what a great person Inigo turns out to be.

    But if you decide to look like Kate Moss, I’m coming up there to slap you! for a start, isn’t she shorter?

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  7. Guess what? Other women don’t cope. But for SOME secret reason – they don’t tell other women. They don’t keep the house tidy. They struggle to get changed. They snap at their husbands. But they don’t talk about it. Still haven’t worked that out.

    Taking Mum’s offer of help is like giving in a little – isn’t it – like admitting you “can’t do it all”…but if you can I would say Go for it. Take all the help offered. Even just a little.

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  8. “Because women all over the country, and the world – my peers, don’t have help. They work full time, they clean their own toilets, they raise kids and they cook meals. They may be stressed, and they may be medicating their way through each and every day (or they may cope without pharmaceutical help, who knows), but they do it. And I don’t even have a job.”

    And they screw up and make mistakes that you never know about and have neuroses and panic attacks when you can’t see them and get into horrible arguments or forget the dust on top of the book shelf. When I was growing up my dad always said, “Don’t judge your insides by everyone else’s outsides.” Donna Reed and June Cleaver and the capable working mother who does and has it all is a marketing mirage.

    I think I cleaned my shower for the first time in months over the Easter long weekend, and I don’t even have kids. Just an unfulfilling job that makes me stressed out and work long hours. And I’d much rather be playing video games than doing housework anyway 😉

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  9. I know it’s been used to the point of cliché, but they say it take’s a village to raise a child. There is controversy as to how this old African proverb is best made applicable to contemporary western society, but I must say it certainly prompts me to think a little and evaluate expectations.

    One challenge with being a mother in the 21st century is that we have a window into the child raising experiences of the globe. Historically when woman bore children in small communities, they’re parenting skills were only compared to other woman in the “village” who were usually raising children within the same environment and circumstances.

    Most woman raising children in Australia today, are exposed to scenarios that vary vastly from their own. The stay at home mum, the part time/full time working mother, the working/studying mother, the mother surrounded by family and friends, the mother isolated and alone……these women only have the name mummy in common. Even woman within the stay at home category have differing scenarios which affect the strategies and skills needed to raise their children.

    How many of us are aware of the torture we are subjecting ourselves to by comparing our parenting competency with others? There are no super mums. I despise being referred to as a “super mum”. We are all just being mothers. Sometimes we cope and sometimes we don’t. No matter what our mothering demographic is.

    Why are we forgetting that our children need us to cope as best we can within our individual circumstances? Why do we worry so much when our coping strategies differ from others? Why do we question our right to seek and or accept help? Why do we so often forget that as parents, we play a key role in the way our future society is shaped?

    What is my message? Yes I do believe it takes a village to raise a child. Let’s say yes to family, friends, communities and services helping a mother with whatever it takes for her to feel on top of her role. Let’s also accept that our village in the 21st century is rather huge and a woman’s experiences and needs are individual. A child doesn’t care how Mrs Smith next door copes with her role as a mother. Our children only care about how we persoanlly manage to cope raising them.

    If we need help, perhaps it’s not a question as to whether we as women deserve it. Perhaps it’s a question as to whether our children deserve mothers who cope with and enjoy their crucial role in a child’s life…whatever it takes.

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  10. Where do I start?

    Firstly….. I love your ability to articulate this stuff. I swear, through 11 years of parenting, 3 relationships, much medication, working / not working (outside of house, you understand) I STILL can’t get past the guilt enough to articulate how unfair it is for me to be feeling guilty about not being Mrs Brady. Even WITHOUT Alice!! (referencing “the Brady Bunch” 1970’s tv sitcom).

    And you KNOW that I didn’t cope. I am loudly and proudly SHOUTING OUT the fact that I spent 3 months in a post-natal psychiatric ward, followed by 11 years of medication and therapy. And I’m wise enough to know that my not coping (aka depression) is absolutely a reaction to the malarky that is mothering.

    Sheesh, La. It’s exactly BECAUSE we’re the “must have it all! Must do it all! Can do it all on our own!” generation of women that we feel this way. We feel “less than” if we’re working only in the home, and still we feel resentful if others imply that what we’re doing is “less than” (and they imply that every time they don’t help with the housework).

    I need a visit. Hamish and I will come out there this week and steal you and Inigo for a trip to Spotlight. And a few hundred hugs.

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  11. The Myth of the Superwoman is only that – a myth. It’s perpetuated by Advertising executives and conservative political parties – don’t get sucked into it. I’m glad I went back to work when the lad was only 6 months old because it put me on equal footing with my other half. There was no expectation of being met at the door with a martini and having a meal on the table for the hard working ‘breadwinner”. The hard thing is staying at home and raising the kids!

    I went through a big culture shock (and had a few teary neurotic moments) in the first 6 months because it seemed I had no control over anything and and I was in an alien environment.
    The “wife/mother/housefrau” is such a hard stereotype to break because it is so pervasive.

    Look after Inigo the best you can (and you obviously have been) and let the rest go hang.

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  12. Dear Lara, you’re not special. Well, you are, but only to us who love you You’re actually completely ordinary in every other way, including needing support and help from time to time. People may pretend they don’t, but they’re either to stupid to notice how irritating they’re being or lying through their teeth.

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  13. I’m there with Emily – I can’t keep a household functioning like a stepford wife would. I don’t work, don’t have kids and don’t keep a neat house. In fact – if it wasn’t for the fact that Pierre follows me round the house and starts to scratch me when he gets hungry and his food bowl needs filling. I’d probably never go into the laundry (where his food bowl is) either 🙂 Which reminds me… I really should do some washing.

    Hugs to you! Hope you start feeling heaps better soon.

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  14. I’m with Emily too. I don’t even have a plant to look after and my apartment often looks like some random person has broken in and thrown stuff around!

    Inigo did well to get you as a Mum!

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  15. Lara, it’s common (I don’t know about “normal”) for women to feel guilty. I don’t know what it is. I feel guilty A LOT.. whether it be about asking Chris to do some housework (his share, no less) or about having to say no at work to midnight conference calls. After Alex was born, I too wondered how other women coped with no help, but I soon realised after talking to a few thatthey don’t really cope. I see a close to immaculate house when I visit because they had cleaners in the morning before. They look sane because their mums came to look after the little ones the day before. That sort of thing.. you know. It looks like everyone is coping without help but really, every one of us would welcome some help if we could get it. If your mum would like to come over and help me watch a very trying active toddler, she’s most welcome 😉 and don’t get me started about challenging toddlers – Alex has started talking AND HE WON”T STOP!!!

    You’ll be okay, Lara. Welcome all the help you can get with open arms. Every bit helps. Sometimes we just have to nod and smile and forget what was said 😀

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  16. we dont tell others we dont cope ..no one mentions it ..AT ALL …its not something any one feel comfortable admitting .

    ‘OH NO I’m FINE (aka house is a mess ,washing not done ,baby cried for hours ,husband yelled at .nothing fits …etc etc )..

    take the help ..even just to go shopping for bread and milk ..I would have given anything to be offered help …

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  17. I just realized that my body, my old body never came back. I am much more thinner since before i have born those 3 little rats ;D
    Don’t worry. Breastfeeding over the half first year and further makes you like Kate Moss 😀
    I am wearing 38 now, this wasn’t possible before my kids (42 something …)
    You see: so much feedback. You are not alone 🙂
    Best hugs, Eva

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  18. I don’t cope. Most days, I don’t cope. I have no help – whether I want it or not. I have no family, no friends on call without their own children and needs. And I do stand up and say it – and you know what, I get given the most horrendous looks when I do. Like I let everyone down by saying it. Like I have somehow failed to acknowledge it. that by introducing some sort of negative aura into the conversation and text of mothering, that my child will be scarred for life and I haven’t ‘done something properly’.

    So no wonder mothers don’t say anything. And it’s such a shame. This discussion just goes round in circles. And then one day, another mother will turn to you and say – I am so glad you said that. You don’t know how long I’ve waited to hear another mother say it, and you can hear the collective sigh.

    Keep talking, keep say it how it is – the good and the bad. That’s what being a real mother is.

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  19. The first thing people told me when I was pregnant was to say “yes” to all offers of help. It was the best advice I ever got. Very few women I know do it alone. Whether it’s the partner, parents, siblings, friends, new friends from mother’s groups or a paid nanny – every one I know has someone helping them out.

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  20. I have my parents helping me out and some days I don’t cope and I feel guilty for passing my baby onto his grandparents as often as I do – especially when I use that time to comment on people’s blogs rather than do the housework etc…but I’ve learnt to be easy on myself and realise that I need to stay sane to be a good mom.

    I do think it takes a village to raise a child and we’ve lost that sense of community. We try to recreate it by setting up mother’s groups, a group of women sometimes literally sitting under a tree with their kids, but it’s not the same. I definitely feel like a bit of a failure having my parents help out as much as they do – but then I think, well it gives me some mental space and I have more energy to engage with my baby when he comes back to me.

    Also I realise now that my parents get a lot out of spending time with their grandchild so they don’t do it just for me! That makes it a lot easier accepting help.

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