Let’s Talk About Mammy Guilt!!

The two lines may have just appeared on the pregnancy test and mammy guilt can rear its bitchy head. I know for me, with the impending arrival of Rebecca being somewhat of a shock, that the guilt was immediate. I worried that I was being selfish for bringing a baby into what was at the time chaos for our family. Then I felt the slightly less trivial “oops I had a few too many drinks last night”.
I worried throughout my pregnancy that because I was so ill, I wasn’t sending the right nutrients to help this little bundle grow. My consultant advised me to eat whatever I could keep down, so I produced a 7.1 pound baby full of Coca Cola and prawn crackers. So now every time Rebecca is hyper (which is a lot) I worry it’s because I drank so much Coke!! This is obviously ridiculous, but that’s mammy guilt for you. It can be totally irrational and unwarranted.


It may be slightly unfair of me to title this blog “mammy guilt” as I’m sure plenty of daddies experience the guilt also. I just feel us women tend to be harder on ourselves compared to our male counterparts, and being a mammy I can only speak from a woman’s perspective. 

As I’ve mentioned before I had an elective section and this will always be the case for me due to reasons totally out of my control. Do I struggle with this? Absolutely. Any woman who has had a C section will hate those awful phrases like “too posh to push”. There is no “easy way out” when it comes to bringing a baby into this world. Us ladies feeling guilty about how we give birth needs to end. If the baby comes out of your nostril, or is carried to your arms on the back of a unicorn, you are amazing! You just brought a human into the world. I know so many mothers have a beautiful idea of how they want the birth of their child to be, and for some lucky mothers this idea becomes a reality. However, I feel that the majority of women have something not quite go the way they planned and then subsequently feel guilty about it. The safe arrival of your baby, and your safety are the main aims. Hopefully by the time you get the epic tea and toast, you’ll be feeling so happy that no matter what happened, you have a fabulous smelling, squishy person to be amazed by.

Our very own little Squishy Back in December 2012

Rebecca is now four years old and I reckon I get at least two rounds of mammy guilt each day and somedays maybe twenty. However, I heard someone say recently “If you worry about the decisions you make for your child’s welfare, then you’re obviously already a great parent” I couldn’t agree with this more, we stress and doubt so much, because we care so much. We question how we choose to feed them, how they sleep, how they play. In reality, the important thing is that they simply eat, sleep and play.

I assume this mammy guilt never goes away, but instead changes, and perhaps the things we feel guilty about change over time too. As Parents we need to support each other, judge less and maybe try give the occasional reassuring “I’ve been there nod”. Consider this next time you see a mother trying to drag her child off the floor in Lidl, because no doubt she’ll get into the car and feel guilty in some way for what just happened.

Remember Guilt is just a wasted emotion and wine is always an option!

 

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So here it is, Merry Christmas!

I’m a tad Christmas Crazy, I always have been. If you follow me on Snap Chat, you will have seen me “Deck the Halls” with Christmas bed covers and matching PJ’s!

But when you’ve lost a loved one, Christmas can be anything but merry!
It’s easy to think you’ll never enjoy Christmas again, how could you, considering many of the traditions you’ve enjoyed for so long now feel like heavy burdens?

Some of those traditions are now gone and some have changed, but I’ll be forever thankful for every Christmas tradition we had before my Mam passed.
Christmas was always an especially magical time in our house, due to my Mam and Dad going to every effort to make it so.

2016 will be our fifth Christmas without her, but slowly as the years have gone by my Christmas spirit is making its way back.

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Rebecca Christmas 2015, One very good Reason to Smile.

But Of course its still Exceptionally Hard. The first sighting of a Christmas ad makes me sob, and the starting line of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” still gives me that sinking feeling (Don’t even get me started on that Christmas Shoes song!).

But I still try to enjoy Christmas for what it is.

The best advice I’ve ever received was; “Cry when you want to cry”.
So when we arrive to my dad’s house at 7.30am on Christmas Morning, in those infamous matching PJ’s. I don’t hide the sadness that hits me like a ton of bricks, I give myself a few minutes alone to be upset and then I return to everyone and see what Santa has left us!

I may need several of those moments over the Christmas period, I’ve had many already.  And I’ll take them as they come. If we don’t allow ourselves to feel sad and deal with emotion, how can we even try to move on?

Of course with all of the laughing, and merriment comes my arch enemy…..guilt!!! You can hear that little voice telling you things like; “I shouldn’t be enjoying myself without them”
If I had one Euro for every time I had this thought over the past few years, I certainly wouldn’t be having so much car trouble!

My Mam has Pride Position on both My Dad & Our Tree Each year.

The truth is however, we have nothing to feel guilty about. Life as hard as it may be goes on, and we deserve to live that life to the best of our ability!

One thing you learn when you lose someone, especially well before their time is, that life is far too short for unnecessary guilt!
So sing when you can, dance when you feel like it, allow yourself to cry and From my Family to your’s…………..

haveyourself

 

Being Mammy, Without Mam.

“Grace you always think you’re Pregnant!”

These were the first words from my Mam while I was waving the Pregnancy test in her face.
I had only just taken the test and hadn’t even rang Stephen (my now Husband). But she was right! Since the day it become possible, I was always panicking that I was pregnant… but this time I actually was.

I had pictured the moment of telling her that she was going to be a Nanny for many years. Unfortunately, the reality was nothing like I’d imagined.

She was all propped up in her bed in St. Luke’s Hospital as the news sank in.
Unfortunately she’d spent more time in that hospital in the past seven months than she had at home.

On the 15th of August 2011, we got the devastating news that she had Cervical Cancer at the tender age of 47. My brothers were only 8 and 17. I was 23 and in the throes of planning my wedding abroad for the following year. All I could think was that this couldn’t possibly be happening to our family.

As the weeks and further diagnosis went on, we learnt that the cancer had progressed but was treatable. Nine weeks of intense treatment followed with hours upon hours spent in St. Luke’s hospital. It ended with a horrendous Christmas. But we got through it and hoped it was the beginning of the end of this nightmare!
“Next year this will be a horrible memory and Christmas 2012 will be much better,” we all said.

But Christmas 2012 wasn’t better; it was a blur of madness, sadness and so many other emotions. My Mam was now 8 months gone from us and my little girl was just one week old. This was just the start of me facing the big world of being Mammy without Mam.

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Myself and My Mam in July 2011, Shortly Before our world was Turned upside Down.

I found out I was pregnant on Tuesday the 10th of April 2012. By noon the next day my Mam had slipped into a deep sleep that lasted a few days and it was to be her last sleep.

On the Friday morning, after spending the past 48 hours in St. Luke’s waiting for the inevitable, myself and Stephen left briefly to visit my GP to confirm the pregnancy. Within an hour of our return to the hospital, my Mam passed away surrounded by those who loved her.

We were all on autopilot for the days that followed. Lots of hand shaking, smiling, crying, saying and doing everything that comes with the death of a loved one. But I also spent those days telling our close friends & family that I was pregnant.

Just four weeks pregnant and telling so many is not ideal, but I felt it was a little light at the end of the tunnel.

My Mam had many a time said that when it happened, I was to move the 10 minutes back home so she could mind me. I laughed it off of course, but for nearly every second of those 9 months I would have given anything for her to be there by my side. My pregnancy was far from easy with months of endless sickness and other issues.

I had people to mind me; I have some wonderful friends and family and the most supportive and loving husband. But sometimes you just need your Mam.
Stephen came home from work one day to find me in a state sitting on the bathroom floor. He came home to this scenario most days after I’d just been sick, but this time was different. I had finished being sick but I couldn’t stand up. At that moment I was in too much pain, not a normal physical pain but one that only someone who has experienced a loss can describe. It’s a deep dull pain embedded inside you. I wanted my Mam, I desperately needed her. Nothing he was going to say was going to heal this feeling I just needed to cry and shout and feel this pain.

That feeling of pain hasn’t gone away, but the frequency of falling apart is less as time goes on and I have learnt to live life in my new world without Mam.

The phrase “bitter sweet” seems to perfectly describe so much of your life after you lose someone.

After our first pregnancy scan, we left the Coombe Hospital filled with relief and happiness that everything with the baby was perfect, but within seconds of getting out those sliding doors I was filled with sadness and I just cried ” I can’t tell her”
Had she been alive, she would have rung us twenty times already gasping to hear how we got on. I sat in the car looking down at those tiny little scan images thinking we should be heading off now to show her.

My wedding day came and went. It was a sad but beautiful day. Yet another day that was filled with so much bitter sweetness. But I was determined to enjoy our day because that’s what she would have wanted. She adored Stephen and she died knowing she was leaving me in the arms of a very good man who would always look after me.
So I laughed and danced the day away as much as a 20 week pregnant Bride can, but I had her in my heart every step of the way.

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Our Wedding Day July 2012  “Cheers Mam”

The weeks went on but due to a previous pelvic issue, I was booked in for an elective section at 39 weeks. The night before my section my Dad and my brothers called. I knew how hard it was for my Dad to say goodbye to me that night. I was still his baby girl about to have my own baby and he hadn’t my Mam by his side.

The next day I sat on the side of the bed in the cold, loud operating theater gowned up and waiting when the anesthetist asked why I was so upset. All I could muster was “I miss my Mam.” Of course the poor man was puzzled and said “It’s ok, you’ll see her after”. Sadly for me this wasn’t true.

Rebecca Catherine Grace arrived safely on the 18th of December and every 7 pound and 1 ounce of her was perfect in every way. The name Rebecca was the only girl’s name we had picked; it was a favorite of my Mams and we both loved it. She was given two middle names as my way of reuniting the three of us.

She was a content and happy baby who brought happiness to so many people who really needed it. But most of all she turned me back into me. My Mam always called me her baby girl and now I had my own baby girl. I had a purpose, a reason to get up and smile through the pain… a little person who needed me as much as I needed her. Nearly four years on, she is the luckiest little girl with three fantastic Grandparents who adore and idolize her. But she knows that her Nanny Catherine is up on a cloud with Santa and Mary Poppins keeping an eye!

Every new thing she has done or achieved over the past four years has always been marred with a tinge of sadness. I still rush to pick up the phone to then be hit with the horrible realisation, that no one will answer.

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My Mini Me

The first day I started to wean Rebecca onto solids, I was so happy. She demolished each teeny bit of that pureed carrot and I was thrilled. Seconds later, Thin Lizzy’s “Sarah” came on the Radio. I smiled and said “Thanks Mam”, as this was one of her favorite songs and her way of saying “Well done darling”.

It doesn’t get any easier and every birthday I can’t believe I have a child one year older that my Mam never met. She would have loved every hair on Rebecca’s Crazy head, spoilt her rotten and tried to undermine every form of discipline I had!

I miss her every day in so many ways but I know she would be beyond proud of the job I’m doing as I’m safe in the knowledge that I learnt from the best.

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Our Little Family

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