My Bumptabulous Story

My Bumptabulous Story

Lovely Tat from Mum in Search shares her experience of writing about birth and pregnancy, and trying to see the funny side of a baby that won't sleep.

This month we're sharing posts by mama-writers as inspiration for our latest creative activity, Book of Mum, (doodling an imaginary book cover for that book you're going to write, one day...).

"Now that it’s over please keep it funny :)"

Only it wasn't over for me. I was right in the middle of it and feeling worse than ever.

I'm talking about pregnancy. Alinka from Baby Web had asked me to share my pregnancy and birth story in a book she was putting together and in a moment of madness I'd said 'yes'. Now I was reading her instructions... keep it funny. Right.

Each of the contributors had been given the same 5 questions to answer and I didn't have much to say about most of them. 

Conception? We had sex. Once. 

The great stuff about being pregnant? I vaguely remembered enjoying my previous pregnancies, but at that particular moment the only great thing about being pregnant was that it was a temporary condition and it would be over one day.

The icky stuff about being pregnant? I could go on and on about his one. But I couldn't think of a single thing to say that would be even slightly funny.

Childbirth (I'd decided to focus on the birth of my second child) was over before I knew it, how on earth was I going to come up with 500 words about it?

The fifth question, life with a new baby (what changed) presented a different problem - where do I start? I could easily fill a whole book about that.

To sum it up, the writing was a laborious process. Labourious.... this made me think, would I rather go through labour and birth again or contribute to another book? I'm still undecided.

Fast-forward a few months. Bumptabulous (the book) was out and so was my baby. All the other mums who contributed were delighted and there was a lively conversation happening in my inbox. I was just reading without participating, because the baby had taken permanent residence in my arms, but I still managed to catch the excitement bug.

Then Bumptabulous turned up in my mail box. I didn't open it for a while... I was living in my own newborn bubble and didn't venture outside it much. But when I eventually started reading I couldn't get enough of it. The book was much more than just funny. It was honest and heartfelt, and I could relate so well to all the stories that were similar or different to my own. Being in the middle of the emotional roller coaster which comes with a newborn, I have to admit that I cried far more often than I laughed. Oh, but I love a book that makes you cry. I felt honoured to be a part of this project.

Back to that question - would I rather give birth or contribute to another book? I'd do either, or both. The pain and effort are well worth it.

An excerpt from Tat's contribution to the book:

My first few weeks as a new mum were very uneventful. The baby dutifully fed and slept, and fed, and slept and I was starting to get bored. I considered taking up a part-time job from home to fill the time. When the other mothers in my mother's group asked exhaustedly, "When is this going to get easier?”, I was secretly thinking, “How much easier could it possibly get?"

I even went to the Early Childhood Centre once to check if there was something wrong with my baby. "He doesn't cry. Aren't babies supposed to be little crying machines?" The nurse warned me against repeating this to any other mum...

Sounds too good to be true? It was. It all started to change around the 6-week mark. My son developed a super-powerful mummy sensor and started sleeping only when I was around. The moment I'd try to sneak out, he'd wake up. After unsuccessfully testing out a variety of sleep advice I finally gave in and let him sleep either with me or on me. I wasn't working and didn't have a strict list of things that needed my attention, so I usually went to bed at 7 pm with him, woke up with him in the morning and carried him around for sleeps during the day. Which meant that I was getting tons of sleep, but nothing else done. 

If only I could bottle up all that sleep for when my daughter came around...

I suspected that she wasn't going to be a great sleeper before she was even born. At some point during the pregnancy I suffered from insomnia and that was when I noticed that the baby was always moving, day and night. I remember saying to my husband, "If you want a baby that sleeps, this one won’t be it. We'll have to try again". 

Only I didn't anticipate the full scope of the disaster - from day one my daughter would only sleep for 5 minutes at a time, with or without me. I'd spend an hour feeding her, rocking her, carrying her around, she'd finally drift off to sleep... and then inevitably wake up 5 minutes later. And for some reason everyone (my mother-in-law, my mum, my husband) thought it was my fault. I hadn't thought enough happy thoughts during the pregnancy, I hadn't visualised a sleeping baby, I wasn't eating the right foods, I didn't feed her enough, I fed her too much, I didn't let her cry it out, I let her cry too much (good luck stopping her!) and my mother-in-law's favourite - she was teething. Never mind that the first tooth didn't show up until 7 months later...

Read more and buy Bumptabulous here.


We'd love you to come and imagine your very own book with us  - doodle us a book cover for the book you'll write one day. You could win a fabulous prize if you upload it in April - a poem composed especially for you by the lovely Vanessa Matthews.

Come join story of mum on facebook for imaginary book reviews of your imaginary books...!


You might also like:

Micro Blasts of Inspiration - Vanessa Matthews

Musings on Mothering Teika Bellamy

Mothering in 100 words - Charlie Plunkett

Affirming the Value of Mothers - Kirsten Hanlon

The Things We Do - Aimee Dolich