A really inspirational and positive post from a single Mum who has truly found her feet. Vicky is 31 and lives in Salisbury with her nine month old daughter. She is a single mother dealing with ongoing mental health issues, money issues, and “a family history that would make Jeremy Kyle’s brain hurt”. This is her story in her own words:
My little girl, S, was born five weeks premature: three days before my appointment with the midwife to discuss my birth plan, and a week before I was due to start birthing classes. I had no clue what was going on, what my options were, what I should and shouldn’t do. Her father was no help at all, and has since told people I deliberately went into premature labour in order to recover more quickly from a chest infection.
That feeling of “ohmygodI’mamotherwhatthechuffinghelldoIdonow” got about a hundred times worse when they finally let us out of the hospital, and it lasted for a fairly long time. The general attitude of S’s father was “it’s just a baby, anyone can do this, stop whining.” Which was not a fantastic help to me when I was panicking about feeding times, or whether to take her out in the rain, or whether she was warm enough, or too warm, or sleeping too much, or jaundiced, or this, or that, or the other and “ohmygodI’mresponsibleforthischild”.
S’s father is a prolific… I don’t know what the pleasant word is, but he has a lot of children. I took my cue from him: the baby needs another blanket. You need to put this much cream on the baby’s nappy rash. If you pick the baby up every time it cries you are making a rod for your own back. Since he obviously knew better than I, I did as I was told.
Luckily for both S and I, her father left when she was three weeks old. Shortly afterwards, the Health Visitor was here while I changed a nappy and asked why I was using so much cream. This was how I had been shown to do it. The Health Visitor sighed, showed me how it’s meant to be done, and left saying “please stop listening to that man.”
After that, I decided I could find out more from a book than from listening to someone whose child-rearing choices are far from ideal. I started reading books and blogs and articles and asking friends and forums and making my own mind up. It’s been a long journey, and since S is only 9 months old it’s really only just begun, but I am so much more confident these days.
Now I know that if S is cold she will let me know. I trust that I will be able to tell what she needs. She doesn’t get nappy rash any more, so we don’t use the cream her father told me needed to be used in huge amounts each nappy change. I have read the articles and studies about leaving children to cry, and will always pick S up whenever she is unhappy. I am so much more confident in my actions these days. My feet are quite firmly found, and it turns out I fall a bit on the hairy-legs-and-sandals side of hippiedom when it comes to parenting. Turns out I’m a pretty good mother on my own, without anyone telling me what to do. Who knew?