Saturday, October 9, 2010

I Am a Shit Mum*

Let’s start at the beginning shall we. On August 12th back in 2006, whilst in labour with a baby who later became known as Joseph, I was asked if I would like an epidural. At the time I was strapped to a bed, a blood pressure monitor to the left of me and a baby heart monitor to the right. There was no soft lighting, no birthing pool option, no music, and in my little cubicle no room to swing a cat nevermind start bouncing around on a birthing ball. I wasn’t allowed to get up, walk about, drink or eat anything. There wasn’t an issue with my labour, that is just the way things are here in Catalonia, childbirth is a very stage managed procedure. There is no gas & air or pethidine, the only pain relief on offer is the big one, the epidural. With an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other, the devil shouted loudest, I accepted the epidural. An application for a place in hell was filed.

That application was put in the recommended pile a few days later, after trying to get Joseph to feed I gave up. I fell at the first hurdle, my milk wasn’t coming in and he’d already been given some formula at the hospital. I sent t’husband out to buy a tin of formula, Joseph fed instantly and I never looked back. I took the easy route, I could have tried harder, given it a few more days but the simple fact was, I wasn’t enjoying the experience, it felt odd and weird. I felt instantly better for formula feeding, I knew what I was doing. I lost many hours of sleep over those first few weeks of being the mum of a newborn but I can happily state that none of them were through guilt. I had made the right decision for me.

It took a while before my application for hell was finally approved, as a stay at home mum who made her own purees I was winning brownie points with the crew upstairs, even though I had never taken Joseph to a Baby Signing or Baby Music class. It wasn’t until Joseph turned 2 that my application was finally passed. The day that as a stay at home mum I decided to place Joseph into the local nursery 5 mornings a week. My application was fast-tracked 6 months later when he started to do full days in nursery. My feeble excuse being that this is very much the done thing in Spain (indeed most of southern Europe) and the only way my son was going to have a fighting chance of being able to speak Catalan before he started school at 3 was to be fully immersed into the local culture. Still the fact that I had palmed my son off onto others for the main part of the day had secured my status as a shit mum.

As shit mums go, I could be worse. I mean I could have gone back to work, with extra shitty points for going back to work because I wanted to rather than finances dictating. I could have been subjected to the trauma of not actually giving birth and having an easy caesarean, that probably would have secured my status of a shit mum a lot earlier.

However, rather than wallow in my status as a shit mum, I want to rejoice. I want to start a shit mum club, members who apply must be able to agree to at least one of the following statements:

  • I had a caesarean – therefore I didn’t actually give birth

  • I had pain relief during my labour

  • I didn’t breast feed

  • I fed my infant with jarred baby food

  • I put my child into daycare despite being a Stay at Home Mum

  • I went back to work

If you can’t agree with any of the statements above, then well done you. You are a brilliant mother, medals will be bestowed upon you and your place in heaven is assured. Just do me a favour and don’t come casting aspersions round here, your sanctimonious preachings will be met with some choice words.

*I don't actually think I'm a shit mum, I'm quite a good one actually. But given the fact that women seem to want to go around and judge other women's parenting choices, I am probably, in some people's eyes, a shit mum.