Tag Archives: Breast Feeding

Baby’s C.V

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

NAME

Baby Boo

DOB

July 2016

ADDRESS

Wherever Mummy’s Boobs Are

EDUCATION

I have studied under the masters; my big sister and big brother.  Under their tutorage I have mastered the arts of fake crying when I want something, and throwing things when I don’t.

SPECIAL SKILLS

Clapping

Raspberry Blowing

Roaring

Growling

Falling off things

Crawling into things

Grabbing things

Biting

SPECIAL INTERESTS

I am passionately interested in remote controls and mobile phones, and I have developed, through an intense period of training, the impressive ability to retrieve them from even the most discreet locations.

Baby wipes hold a certain appeal to me.  I find pulling them all from the package and tasting each one individually to be incredible rewarding.  Indeed, I believe I am now something of a connoisseur.

I am very musically minded.  I have a piano which plays a tune that appeals to me greatly and I like to play it on repeat.  My mummy’s reaction is particularly entertaining to me; her face contorts into hilarious expressions after the seventh time through.  I am also developing skills in percussion.  I have several rattling devices which can be smacked against a variety of surfaces to create different sounds, such as tables, chairs, walls and heads.

WORK GOALS

I believe I am most suited to shift work.  I am very comfortable working late nights and early morning.  Indeed I often insist everyone gets up at 1AM just for the pleasure of experiencing such rarely appreciated hours.

I would do well in a creative role.  When presented with a bowl of pasta or soup I am able to, with minimal effort create works of art so incredible that my Mummy takes photographs whilst crying out “Oh my God” and “Look at you” and “Nobody step in it!” due to her desire to preserve my creations for the maximum time possible.

I have excellent leadership skills and would suit a role in management.  I am able to elicit the desired responses from my family with ease, indeed their entire structure has been reshaped simply to accommodate my arrival into the workplace.  If I am able to achieve that within days of my birth, imagine what I’ll do over the following years.

RELATIONSHIPS WITH COLLEAGUES

I have excellent interpersonal skills.

My Mummy seems extremely willing to cater to my needs and willingly involves me in all her daily activities.  I am privy to such things as toilet use, showering, cooking, cleaning, wine drinking and crying.  I am allowed unfettered access to her breasts, indeed on occasion I have demanded access simply because I haven’t seen them in some time.  On being presented I am satisfied and refuse them, just to make sure she knows I am boss.

My Daddy clearly worships the ground I crawl on, and even though he regularly fails me by not offering me his own breasts, he seems most determined to achieve my happiness despite a substandard body.

My brother and sister seem very taken with me and allow me to take their toys without complaint.  When they do attempt complaint they are reminded that I am indeed only a baby and therefore their job is to accommodate my needs.  This is one of my favourite aspects of my currant position and I intend to make use of this for at least the next fifteen years.  Possibly more.

The Grandparents are particularly superb at catering to my needs.  A simple smile or fart elicits celebration of my skill and wonder beyond anything the ordinary family members have achieved in months.  I am certain that should our business relationship continue I will be able to engage in many hours of unprecedented chocolate eating, that which the Mummy and Daddy would no doubt attempt to complain about should they be privy.  I, however, know how to keep the workplace running smoothly and operate a policy of don’t ask, don’t tell.

PERSONAL STATEMENT

I, Baby Boo, believe no finer baby exists.  I am marvellous.  I am incredible.  Admire my toes, there are ten of them.  Ten!  And have you seen my thighs?  I am regularly reminded that they are fantastic and “squishable”.  I will fill any home with laughter.  I will fill any heart with love.  I am, quite simply, a wonder of the modern age.

 

 

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Mummy’s Only Human

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

As a mother I feel I should be impenetrable.  I should be strong as a rock.  I should take anything my children throw at me and handle it without a flinch, because I am a mother.

But I’m not a rock.  I’m not impenetrable.  I flinch.

Sometimes I flinch more than I do at other times.

I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by life right now.  I have enough work to do to work solidly for 27 hours a day.  I start as soon as I wake, be that midnight or 5AM.  Today it was 3AM.  I stop when I physically cannot go on anymore.  I usually work on my phone in bed before I finally pass out.

As well as my work I have children to raise, animals to care for, a house to clean, food to cook, and relationships to maintain.  I look around my house, that I know is a big joke to most on account of the sheer levels of chaos, and I know I need to sort it.  I need to do more to keep it nice.  Instead I do the bare minimum, and sometimes not even that because compared to my work and my children it just sinks on my priority list.

The problem is the result is that because nothing gets as much attention as it deserves, my children, my work, my diet (which is mainly cup-a-noodles and the occasional bag of mini eggs), all end up neglected and everything piles up in my mind until it’s a swirling ball of chaos with every voice shouting at me that I’m not doing enough, that nothing is good enough.

And I’m overwhelmed.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Rose And Mum And More, Lilly Prospero, Mummy Blogger

Photo credit Counselling

When I’m overwhelmed I feel constantly on the brink of mental turmoil and my ability to handle what my children sometimes throw at me drops.

This morning I was trying to edit an article, promote a newspaper piece we appeared in, engage in social media promotion, breast feed my baby, look after my daughter, and drink a coffee.  When my big girl decided to suddenly launch at me for a hug that involved standing over the top of me on the sofa and wrapping her arms around my throat.

I panicked.

My sense of personal space being intruded upon is one of the first things to go when I start to crack.  I need physical distance.  I feel oppressed when people crowd in on me.  I feel frightened when people move suddenly.  I panic when I am grabbed.  My daughter only wanted to love me, she only wanted to hug me, but the force of the grab around the neck, the looming presence that appeared over the top of me, the pressure down.  It was too much and I snapped.

“GET OFF ME!” I screeched at her, flapping my arms to get her away from me.

She broke her heart.  She had only wanted to love me.  To hold me.

I forced myself to calm down then pulled her in for a cuddle.  I apologised and explained that I need a bit of space sometimes.  She apologised too and we had a hug.

I hated myself for reacting to her like that.  It’s not her fault I carry scars that make bodily contact occasionally traumatic.  It’s not her fault that breastfeeding my baby takes that last bit of coping with human contact ability I have.  It’s not her fault I struggle to handle pressure.  It’s not her fault I’m so busy.  None of it is her fault.

But, equally so, she needs to learn that people are human and carry bruises around with them that you can’t see.  Bruises that, even with good intentions and seemingly innocuous behaviour, can be prodded causing pain.  She needs to learn that anyone has the right to reject physical intimacy, and doing so doesn’t mean they don’t love you.  She needs to learn that people have their own needs.  And that includes Mummy.

I wish I was a rock.  I wish they could count on me to handle everything they throw at me with calm strength, to teach them lessons about respecting people’s needs without cracking.  But I’m not.  I’m only human and human’s are not perfect.  Humans are damaged.

I’m doing my best but I’m only human.  And sometimes I crack.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Baby’s First Bedtime

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

This week we decided it was time to start Baby Boo on a bedtime routine.  When I say “we” I really mean “I” but he gives me his full support when I make decisions like this so I’m lumping him in with me.

I decided we would start on March 1st.  When she was smaller she spent much of her evening feeding, but as she has grown she has been tending to either have a long feed and then fall asleep in my lap, or be wide away and full of baby rage.  I took these as signs to mean she needs to be asleep, and when she isn’t she’s not happy.

We waited until March 1st as with the Sirens Launch book party on Tuesday 28th, there seemed no point attempting to establish a routine right before she would be jerked out of it again for a night out, so March 1st was set and we prepared ourselves for it.

I started Miss Rose on a bedtime routine at about the same age, and it hasn’t changed much since.  We’ve dropped the evening bath, she now spends a lot longer in the bath in the mornings, and she doesn’t have a boob or a bottle anymore, but for the most part what we set up in babyhood has lasted until now, so it was really easy to start with Boo in the same way.

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Photo credit Dagon

After dinner, Boo now eats her dinner at the same time as the Bigs, we go upstairs for quiet time.  We read picture books, lift the flap books, rhyme books.  We sit quietly upstairs chatting about what we’re reading with no TV, no music.

Fortunately Boo adores this time, as does Miss Rose, and they sit together on Rose’s bed laughing away.  Rose points things out in the books for Boo, who dutifully attempts to eat the pages.  Rose sings the songs and Boo laughs until she falls over backwards.  It’s a really lovely and contented way to round off the day.

After stories, Rose gets undressed and does her last wee on the toilet and then we brush teeth. I’ve been brushing Boo’s teeth since she first got them so I do Rose’s teeth with her brush then I do Boo’s little gnashers and clean off her gums.

After teeth it’s back into the bedroom and into pyjamas and then it’s last cuddles and conversations before quiet time.  I turn out the lights and, using the torch from my phone, read a book.  All three of us lie in Rose’s little bed, Boo in the middle having a breastfeed, and I read.  Currently I’m reading The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis and it’s a real joy.

Once both girls are asleep I take Boo and move her into her crib next to our bed.  So far she’s always disturbed a little so I give her another quiet feed and then settle her with a blanket.  I breastfeed her to sleep.  I know people say you shouldn’t, rod for your own back and all that, but I say balls to them because it’s my rod, my back, and it makes my baby go to sleep.

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, Siren Stories, Mummy Blog, Breast Feeding Blog

Photo credit WerbeFabrik

The first time I did it was bizarre.  I walked downstairs feeling quite alone and peculiar.  I’m so used to her being with me that to be without her felt lonely.

She obviously heard my inner cries of despair and soon woke up, however, and so back up I went to do another breastfeed and another settle.

So far it is taking about an hour and a half from the first time she falls asleep to when she stays properly.  I’m going up and down, breastfeeding her quietly and then leaving again.

For the most part she’s not having a huge feed, she’s not crying because she’s hungry, she’s crying because she’s realising she’s alone and she doesn’t like it.  She’s never left alone.  I don’t feed her to fill her up, I feed her to reassure her, to comfort her.  To make sure she knows that if she needs me I’m there, she doesn’t need to be afraid, she’ll never be abandoned.  Over time she’ll start to take comfort in that fact and not wake up afraid that she’s alone because she’ll never fear that she’s alone.

Of course, I say that, but the big two still pile into our bed in the night because they don’t like being alone, but it usually takes a good few hours and really that’s all we need.

Some people don’t bother with a bedtime routine, indeed Jonathan didn’t with his ex wife for Z.  Z just stayed up until they went to bed.  Doing a bedtime routine isn’t something everyone subscribes to.  Then other’s do it earlier and more strictly.  My mother in law told me how from day one her boys were put to bed at bedtime and that’s how they learned.

I’m somewhere in the middle.

I couldn’t cope with never putting her to bed, I need my evenings.  I need my time away from children.   I need my time with Jonathan.  I need time to be quiet and wind down because children drain so much energy from me when I already have so little to give.

But I didn’t want to do a bedtime until I felt she was ready.  If she was feeding all evening then I’d rather have her with me so she could just be with the boobs she do desperately craved during those tiny months when all she wanted in the world was boobs, boobs, boobs, and more boobs.  And I do miss her.  She’s still so small I worry about her constantly when she’s not on me.  Of course, if I’m honest, I still worry about Miss Rose and have to repeatedly check that she’s surviving alone in bed throughout the evening too.  So I don’t suppose that will ever change.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Feminist Blog

Photo credit Iquaraishi

For now her bedtime routine is working.  It’s eating a good size chunk out of my evening with repeated return visits, especially when I don’t stay up late as it is, but I know it’s not forever.  It’s only until she adjusts to the change in her life and stops feeling so peculiar about being left alone.  The key is, and I definitely believe this, not give in.  When I did this with Rose it was my first baby and I didn’t know what to do so I just made it up, but I am certain this time around that giving in is how to derail the entire affair.  If I can stick it out and just do repeated boobs and repeated settles, she’ll soon be sleeping in her own crib in the evening just fine.

Of course, then we have to go through what happens when I stop breastfeeding.  Then what happens when she stops having a bottle.  But honestly, my rod, my back, my baby.  These are all bridges I’ll cross when I get to them.  For now this is what works and I’m sticking to it!

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

No I Won’t Cover Up

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I am a breast feeder.  I fed my first daughter for nearly 11 months and I’m currently feeding my second daughter who is nearly 8 months.  I have always breastfed on demand, as and when required.  Whether I’m in a restaurant, a shop or the theatre I’ve simply fed my baby because she’s hungry and needs feeding.

Generally my feeding so publicly and without shame has been met with positivity or, for the most part, not been noticed.  Until now.

There is a misconception amongst those who argue vehemently against public feeding that breastfeeding involves some dramatic wafting of a bare breast with milk spraying.  In reality, in my own case and the case of breast feeders I have been around, it would be easy not to know the baby is having a feed at all.  You can’t see anything as there’s a baby head in the way.  It simply looks like a cuddle.  There’s no wafting breasts or spraying nipples because the breast is behind a baby and the nipple and milk are both in their mouth.  On any Saturday night you’ll see more exposed breast flesh for fashion than you’ll see from a breastfeeding mother.

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, Breastfeeding, Blog, Feminist, Mummy Blogger

Photo credit Avina Voicu

This weekend we went on a big family reunion to a remote area on the moors outside Buxton.  There were aunts and cousins, grandparents and grandchildren.  On Sunday we headed en masse to a local pub for a traditional Sunday lunch.

The Knight’s Table in Quarnford, Buxton, has an isolated charm.  The wind whipped and the rain fell, but we hurried inside and it was warm and cosy.  Targeted at families, offering children’s meals and with over the top medieval themed décor, it seemed the perfect location.

I was sniffy about the word “Damsels” being on the ladies toilets whilst the men got to be knights, but I put it aside as it was just part of a theme.

With nearly 30 people in our party we took over the majority of the restaurant area.  Those of us with children stationed ourselves at a back table behind a wooden partition, it seemed sensible given the likelihood of strange noises from tablets and games. and I took a seat in a high backed booth style bench with good back support for feeding.  The rest of the family filled the subsequent tables.

In due course Baby Boo required feeding so, as usual, I cradled her in my lap, slipped a boob out of my nursing dress and latched her on, then continued chatting.

“You need to cover up,” cut through a voice.  I looked up in surprise and saw the woman who had previously seated us.

I looked down at myself in confusion, had I accidentally exposed myself?  No.

I looked back at her and she pointed a finger at Boo.

“There are other people here,” she said crossly.  “You’ll need to cover that up.”

Incredulously I said, “No!”

I was furious.

Besides the fact I was tucked in a corner and surrounded by family, besides the fact I am legally entitled to breastfeed in public without harassment or discrimination, besides the fact that even businesses as well respected as Claridges have publicly apologised and admitted fault for similar incidents, I was furious because I was embarrassed.  I was humiliated. I lost my appetite, gathered up my children, and we left.

As defiantly as I refused to give in to her unacceptable demand, I felt ashamed.  As strong as I felt for continuing to feed, I felt weakened. I felt betrayed.  This woman had seen me doing something legal, normal, natural, which her establishment is required by law to respect my right to do, and instead of behaving appropriately had turned her back on both the law and the history of women’s rights.

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More Blog, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Lilly Prospero

Photo credit Bohed

One look on TripAdvisor confirmed I am not alone in this experience and other nursing mothers have been similarly harassed in The Knight’s Table.

I chose not to make a scene out of embarrassment and the desire not to negatively impact the experience of an extended family I am only just get to know, but part of me wishes I had.  Part of me wishes I had challenged her on it.  Alerted the matriarch of the family who, she later assured me on learning about the incident, would have defended me passionately.

I should have fought at the time,  but I am choosing to fight now.  No woman should be made to feel that way.  Had I been alone or a first time mother the experience could easily have put me off breastfeeding for life.  I’m a defiant, proud feminist with an established history of feeding and a loyal family at my side and it still made me feel crap.  Other circumstances could have been far harder and nobody has the right to that power.

I didn’t fight immediately but one thing I can assure you is that I am no damsel.  I can fight the dragon myself, and I beg of any other nursing mothers who find themselves in The Knight’s Table to brace yourself, then proudly fight that dragon too.

We will not be bullied, intimidated or shamed.  We are not damsels.  We will fight.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

When Will I Stop Breast Feeding?

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I’ve been breastfeeding baby B since birth and she’s now seven and a half months.  For the first five and a half months she only had milk from me, and then I started introducing solids and now she’s a huge food fan as well as being a true devotee of the boob.

So the question starts coming up a lot now, when will I stop breastfeeding?

I fed Rose until nearly 11 months.  I had hoped to go for a year but actually was happy to stop when I did.  I was feeling trapped and frustrated by the process, I was hoping to get her onto a bottle for at least part of the time but she wouldn’t go near one, and finally my body made the choice for me.  She couldn’t get enough milk out and was getting upset and angry, biting me and crying, and I finally said it was time.  I had missed my goal of a year but it was time.

With Boo, who knows?

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, Siren Stories, Mummy Blog, Breast Feeding Blog

Photo credit WerbeFabrik

The World Health Organisation recommends a minimum 2 years of breastfeeding.  Whilst I have no negative feelings about the idea of breastfeeding for 2 years, I’m also not wedded to the idea.  I understand why it is best for her, and part of me thinks I should be more dedicated to achieving 2 years, but I’m not.  I might do it, it would be nice to, but if I don’t I won’t beat myself up over it.

I know I’m not keen to stop now regardless of what the health recommendations are, but equally so I’d like her to start taking a bottle as well.

I don’t want to stop because I love it.

I love that it’s something special for she and I that nobody else has with her.  She’s such a social creature, loves going to others, has no anxiety when she can’t see me.  Selfishly, I am aware, the fact that she depends on me for breast feeding gives me a feeling of being special in her life.  I know that I’m her mummy and I’ll always be special, I’ve not breastfed Rose for more than 3 years but I’m still very definitely special in her life.  But still, this babyhood dependency on breasts is incredibly short lived.  I’m not ready to lose it.

I love that it calms her and soothes her.  When she had her vaccinations she cried, but as soon as I stuck a nipple in her mouth she calmed down immediately and started suckling happily.  When she’s rolled off her play mat and hit her head on a chair she’s cried, but breastfeeding instantly calmed her again.  When she’s been poorly being able to snuggle into my chest and feed has calmed her when she’s been at her worst.  I am not keen to give that up.  When Rose is distressed it takes so much more than just popping a boob out and latching her on.  She needs so much more.  The simplicity of breastfeeding to end her pain, reassure her she’s safe, make her illnesses less distressing, it’s something incredible and I don’t want to lose that.

I love that it settles her to sleep.  When she’s tired, rubbing her eyes and getting grouchy, she will fall asleep with cuddles sometimes, or just where she is.  But most of the time she gets crankier and crankier as she gets more and more tired.  A sure fire way to settle a tired and irritable baby is by cuddling her up with a breastfeed.  She sucks away until she falls asleep with an arm around my boob and snuggles in, completely contented.  When Rose is tired and irritable it takes more.  She needs stories and darkness and calm, she needs wind down and settling.  Sometimes she’s so tired that she won’t go to sleep, as bizarre as that seems to me.  Giving up that easy settle of breast feeding isn’t something I’m keen to race to.

In a similar vane I love that breast feeding keeps the nights quiet.  Other than occasions when she has a cranky night, the baby at night is the easiest one in the house to deal with.  She falls asleep in her co-sleeper crib then, at some point in the night, shuffles her way into our bed and latches on to my boob.  If she wakes up she just reattaches herself and goes back to sleep.  If she’s sad she reattaches herself and feels better.  There’s no walking around in circles trying to settle her.  There’s no crying baby disturbing the whole house.  I don’t even have to sit up.  She just attaches herself and we all sleep soundly.  Of course, the downside is I have to sleep in the same optimal breastfeeding position every night which gives me a bit of cramp, and I have to sleep with my boobs out which drips milk onto our sheets, but that is far preferable to any alternative.  I don’t worry about night time.  The big kids, on the other hand, with Rose’s separation anxiety and Z’s night terrors, can be quite a challenge.  Indeed, the night time is the time I’m most keen to keep feeding through!

So, with all these positives, why would I want to stop?

Well, I don’t fully want to stop yet but equally so I’d value her being able to take a bottle occasionally for a number of reasons.

I want some alone time with my man.  I miss him.  We’ve only ever been parents in our relationship, we had none of those heady child free days even when we were first dating, but we did occasionally have nights off where we’d send the children to grand parents and we’d go out for dinner, have a few too many drinks, then come home and (mum, look away for a moment) get down to some seriously excellent sex.  Our love life and dating life is now done on the hurry.  It’s quick whilst the baby is asleep.  It’s let’s go out for dinner but somewhere that’s pram accessible, and never with too many drinks.  I’d love a night to just be with him.  I miss him.

J.J. Barnes, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Mummy Blog, Parenting Blog

Photo Credit TshirtRevolution

With two bigger children I am sometimes a little unable to parent them properly because I’m attached to a baby.  If a fight breaks out or a toilet crisis occurs I either need to leave the bigs unattended in a time of need, or pull a feeding baby off my nipple and let her scream in despair whilst I sort them out.  If she took a bottle I could sort out both.

As work gets more and more busy, meetings occurring and events that I need to attend, I’m either taking the baby with me or I’m leaving her.  Currently leaving her can only happen for an hour or two at a time before she needs another feed, or I can take her and breastfeed at the time.  I’ve been perfectly happily getting on with breastfeeding her in various locations and have no embarrassment about doing it, but there are times it’s tricky.  I have to find somewhere to sit, sometimes not easy, I can’t walk around, meaning sometimes things have to be delayed to accommodate it.  It’s possible but it poses a challenge, and one which I could avoid if she took a bottle enough for her to go to her grandmothers for the duration of a work event.

What I definitely don’t want again is the all-or-nothing I had with Rose.  She absolutely wouldn’t take a bottle and when I physically couldn’t feed her anymore she was forced to scream and scream whilst her father tried to force her onto a bottle and I sat downstairs crying.  I hated it.  I hated myself.  I felt like a failure and a cruel and horrible mother.  My ideal situation would be that she will take a bottle happily, and continue to breast feed until she naturally comes to a stop because she and I are both ready.  Perhaps before 2 years, perhaps after, I’m not committed to either, but at a time that feels right for the two of us.

Until then?  Until then I’ll just keep making bottles available for her and I’ll keep feeding for as long as I physically can.  My relationship is stable and not suffering for our lack of alone time and I’m managing to balance working and parenting a baby in a way that is definitely hard but somehow I’m muddling through, and the bigs are remarkably accommodating and accepting of the new situation.  We are not at a point where I’m even considering forcing her off completely, but we are at a point where I can see the definite benefit of her taking both a boob and a bottle.

How long we’ll go for I honestly don’t know, but for the time being I’m definitely not looking to stop.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Working Mums… Kudos

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Today I experienced on a microscopic scale what “normal” working mums experience daily.

Usually my working life sees me sitting at home in my pyjamas working on my laptop whilst my oldest daughter crashes around the place and my baby daughter breastfeeds.  Now don’t get me wrong, it brings with it it’s own unique set of challenges.  Balancing working and child raising whilst trying to do both at the same time, in the same house, day in day out is uniquely complex and I’ve written before about struggling with it.  I never that my work or my family have had the attention they deserve.  However, I also don’t feel that I’m not getting enough time in the company of my children.  Other than the three hours a day Miss Rose is at nursery, we are pretty much glued to one another.

Today I had a meeting about my book, and that meant I was leaving my girls with their grandma.  Miss Rose adores her grandma and has had time with her on many occasions, but my baby girl has barely been parted from me sine she was born seven months ago, almost to the day.  The only times we’ve been separated have, indeed, been when I’ve been going in the shower or doing Miss Rose’s bedtime.

Bracing myself to leave my baby girl even in the most trusted hands of her grandmother was something that I had to process.  And this was just for a one off, I won’t be doing it regularly!

Then there was the challenge of actually getting ready.

Firstly, I’m a different body size and shape to last time I had to wear anything remotely smart.  I’m queen of leggings and stretchy waist bands, comfy t-shirts and hoodies.  I’m slouchy boots and fluffy socks.  Before Baby Boo was born I was a trim size 8, but having a second baby since then has left me larger with boobs and a bum that weren’t there before, but a wardrobe full of clothes designed for someone lacking in those areas.

Whilst Miss Rose bounced on my bed, pulled the sweaters out from my wardrobe, packed numerous soft toys into her backpack, and sang to me, I tried on so many different outfits trying to cobble together something that was both smart… and I could pull up past my thighs.  I got stuck in a rather fetching emerald green dress.  I nearly broke the zipper on a black swing skirt.  I has my breasts crushed into my rib cage by a nice shirt.  Looking longingly at my drawer that is entirely dedicated to the black stretchy leggings I usually dedicate my life to, I eventually squished myself into a skirt that was both a respectable length and I could get over my bottom, and found a smart sweater that I could breathe in that didn’t say GEEK across the front in huge letters.  Huzzah!

Then I had to attempt footwear.  I have no worn high heels in many months.  Indeed, well over a year.  Well over a year and a half.  I put some on.  Then I fell over.  Miss Rose thought it was hysterically, whilst I cursed about my painful ankle.  Then I reminded myself that I am a proud feminist.  That thinking I should be crippling myself in high heels was just my inner victim of the patriarchy and I am stronger than that.  I can rise above it.

I compromised on a pair of very low heeled Mary Janes, primarily because all my super comfy flats are not in the least bit smart, mostly scuffed, and often with sequins.  My feminist self begrudingly accepted that whilst I don’t agree in the least bit with wearing heels being essential for being professional, I was at least able to comfortably walk and did look smart.  As beautiful as the patent stilettos may be, they’re the work of the devil himself.

Whilst Baby Boo howled that she needed to be fed, Miss Rose crashed around in her underwear apparently oblivious to my shrieks of “ROSE PUT YOUR LEGGINGS ON!”, and I discovered a possible mascara allergy as I blinked my burning eyes frantically in the mirror, I eventually managed to get myself dressed, brushed, and enough make up on that my perpetual exhaustion was masked.

As I sat on the sofa giving Baby Boo a last breastfeed before her stay with grandma I realised just how challenging this must be day to day for “real” working mums.  I thought about my own mother who did this every single day from when I was six weeks old.  I thought about my step son’s mother who is doing this every day now.  I have the luxury of this being an occasional novelty for a short period of time, indeed I was back with her two hours after leaving her, and I still found it challenging on both an emotional and a practical level.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Photo credit Gris Guerra

Working mothers of the world I doth my cap to you.  What you do is not easy.  Whether you do it because you love your job and don’t want to give it up, or because you simply have no other choice financially, I know it isn’t easy.  I know that as a half stay at home half working mum I have this amalgamation of both worlds and I am incredibly fortunate.  I know that doing a job I love as much as I do makes me one of the most blessed women in the world.  I know that saying goodbye to my baby girl for the first time was incredibly difficult and I don’t have to do it again for… well.. ages!  I know that you have to do it constantly and, no matter why you’re going out to work, that is something you have to face in a way I do not.

Stay at home mothers are so often pitted against working mothers in a “who is mother superior?” way.  Is the mum at home dedicating her life to her children better?  Is the mum going to work providing for and inspiring her family better?

My limited experience tells me the competition is bullshit.  I was fried and anxious by a toe dipping into the world of the working mother.  I am fried and anxious by my regular half and half life.  Basically being a mum is frying and exhausting, let’s be honest.  But to working mums I say kudos.  I don’t normally taste your world and it sure is hard.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

This Is Hard

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I love my children.  I love them so much.  But raising them is the hardest challenge I have ever taken on in my entire life, and it’s one with no end in sight, no breaks.  I can’t put it down at the end of the day, I can’t walk away if it gets too tough, I can’t take a couple of weeks off to let myself recover.  I can’t take time off sick, which I could really use, and I’m on call 24 hours a day.

I love my children.  But being a mum is so hard.

My eldest daughter is the love of my life.  She is sweet and smart and funny.  She is loving and kind and gentle.  She makes me intensely proud of her day in day out, and I pine for her when we are apart.

Last night, after I had dealt firmly with a particularly difficult tantrum, I told her that I need to teach her how to function in society.  That I get angry with her not because she’s a bad girl, but because I need to teach her not to use bad behaviour.  I asked if she would rather grow up to have a home and a partner and children like I do, with a house full of happiness and fun, or if she wants to grow up to be alone and unhappy.  I told her that if she wants happiness and people around her I need to teach her not to behave like that.

Cuddled up in my lap, with tears streaked on her face, she told me she wants happiness when she grows up.  She told me she wants to be happy like she is when she’s with her nanny, not with me.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Rose And Mum And More Blog, The Lilly Prospero Series, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Photo credit Greyer Baby

I broke my heart on the inside, but on the outside gave her a kiss and told her I’m happy when she’s with me.  Then I lay her down in bed and stroked her hair and stayed with her until she fell asleep.

She wants to be happy like when she is with her grandmother, not with me.

She is happier when she is not with me.

I cried.  I cried and I cried and I cried.

I phoned my mum, she told me it was nonsense.  I cried to Jonathan, who told me it was nonsense.

The thing is I know it is nonsense.  I know she said it to hurt me, she’s pushing my buttons to make a point.  I know that when I was in hospital and didn’t see her because I was so ill that she fell apart because she missed me so much.  I know that when she is poorly it’s me she needs.  I know when she’s sad it’s cuddles from me she craves.  I know.  I know that when she goes to nanny’s for sleepovers I get several Facetime calls because she misses me.  That she often cries for me in the night.  I know.

But even though I know the words are designed to hurt me, it doesn’t stop them from hurting me.  And right now I am so very tired.  And when I’m tired I’m vulnerable.  When I’m vulnerable I’m more easily hurt.

My baby daughter is the love of my life too.  She is my joy.  When she looks at me and laughs I have burst into tears of happiness.  The way she gazes at me adoringly fills me with warmth.  I’m watching her personality develop and she is becoming the most happy, adventurous, bold little girl.

She is breaking me.

She is in a phase where at around midnight she wakes up.  Not just wake up and be settled again, but wake up and be ANGRY.

Last night it was about half past eleven.  She woke up and she cried.  She howled.  She raged.

I tried breastfeeding her, she bit me.  I tried rocking her, she thrashed around.

How Jonathan slept through it I do not know because it was loud.  I’d have stayed put and just persevered but I feared she would wake up but big two, and three awake children was more than I could face.

So I took her downstairs and walked around with her, she cried but didn’t scream.  I went for a wee and put her down, she screamed.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Rose And Mum And More, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More Blog, Parenting Blog, Mummy Blogger

Photo Credit Profile 31

Eventually I went back upstairs and just rocked her in bed and cried whilst she cried.  Eventually Jonathan woke up and offered a sympathetic hand on my back.  Even more eventually she fell asleep.  Blissful, blissful sleep.

I love my children so very much.  I adore them.  But this is so hard.

My big girl knows how to hurt me and does it.  My baby girl is on a one girl mission to melt my brain.

I love my children but this is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  And there are no breaks.  And no escapes.

I don’t begrudge it.  I would never be without them.  But I am tired.

And this is hard.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!