It’s been a while

It’s been a while since I felt the need / have had the time to write. Life has been a whirlwind, my little people aren’t as little, there’s been a global pandemic, we’ve moved house, Russia is being Russia and I’ve signed up to run the London Marathon. Madness.

I’ve chosen to write a little about what’s going on to provide myself with reflection. I’ll jump around a lot, bear with me, it may provide context at some point.

Firstly, the small ones are growing up. My eldest, William is 6 and youngest, Florence will be 5 on Sunday. While I loved the squidgy babies (and knowledge they’d be where you’d put them down two minutes ago), I don’t miss the sleepless nights. William didn’t consistently sleep through the night until he started school, Florence was 3. Sleep deprivation is absolutely a form of torture and, if you look around you, you can see other parents sharing the same troubles. As they grow up, life doesn’t get easier as some people suggest, it just gets different. There are different obstacles to overcome and different scenarios and activities to share, fun and love. Tears, tantrums and bickering too. So much bickering.

The pandemic saw us all sharing more time together, schools and nurseries were closed, I worked from home and, during the first lockdown, George had a few weeks off while working out how to best run the business, alongside heading out as an on call firefighter from time to time. We’re so lucky to live in a semi-rural town with access to a garden and outdoor spaces. Like so many other families, we decided our living space didn’t really work for us and found a beautiful house in the same town which needed some love. We made the move on 2nd December 2020.

The new house was in fact a very old house, built in circa 1836 and made of cob (I spent many nights laying awake thinking it’d crumble to the ground as the rain pelted down). The previous owners had lived here for 30 years, made many happy memories but decided it was too much to manage and didn’t appreciate the new builds that now spoilt their once picturesque views, with more planned to surround the house – building works to start next month.

The new builds don’t bother me at all, they’ve provided us with pavements and safe access to walk the children to school which wouldn’t have otherwise been possible and will soon provide lots of digger action to keep William entertained. We’re lucky to have a beautifully established garden with many trees, shrubs and flowers. The previous owners, to the excitement of the children, also left a chicken coop with two hens, only one made it to our moving date, the biggest black hen which William decided to call “Buck-Buck” due to the shriek she made. Over the next few months, we added four more – Blackcurrant, Snowy, Floppy and Dipper. As their first ‘pets’, the children loved spending time with them, feeding them and even helping me clean them out (although their desire to assist with that chose has faded). They especially enjoy collecting eggs and selling them (for £1 a box, mainly to granny and nanny), saving the money to buy a toy they both agreed on (not always an easy task).

I’ve made countless lists, deciding what should be tackled first – the leaking, falling down conservatory, the cracked render on the exposed west facing wall, the retaining wall that’s falling into the road, the garden which would probably become unmanageable within a few months, internal decoration, the roof, is it sound? During my research, it soon became very clear that old houses should not be treated in the same way as new houses. They’re built with traditional materials, lime, earth. I soon found myself in the depths of old house repair books and online forums, learning about the importance of old houses needing to breathe. Anxiety levels grew as I looked around at modern gypsum plaster, concrete render and non-breathable paint/wallpaper.

Lover of a list, I prioritised according to what was required to make the house sound – roof and render. Finding builders that understood the importance of using traditional methods and having availability over the next two years was near impossible so I’m tackling little things as and when I can. Slow progress is still progress, right?

How time flies / #2 / expressing

Well, it’s been 13 months since my last blog.  I’d “blogged in my head” just hadn’t found the time (or patience) to write anything down.

These last 13 months have been emotional. I went back to work – part time.  A change in role and responsibilities that would allow me to spend more time at home with my mini beast. Wonderful for adult interaction, using big words (or at least not sounding out “ba-na-na” for the twentieth time), going to the loo alone. Not great for the guilt of leaving my little one while I revel in those “luxuries” associated with returning to work.

It was tough.  Tougher than I imagined. Tough because of the range of emotions I felt – guilt, was I a bad mum for going back to work? Sadness – the potential of missing out on my baby growing up. Apprehension – would I even be able to remember how to work? Excitement – I’d spend time with adults (followed by guilt for being so selfish).  Exhaustion – my wonderful little man didn’t sleep through the night until he was 15 months old and even then it was hit and miss.

I soon discovered the range of emotions was heightened as I was expecting my second baby.  Having struggled to conceive #1, I was elated that not nearly as much medical intervention was required this time or half as many heart breaks along the way.

Little miracle #2 arrived by elective C-section (avoiding the possibility of another 78 hour labour and emergency c-section as per #1) on 13th March this year.  I tap this out on my tablet with a sleeping baby on my chest after a hectic day as a mum of 2, who’d have thought it

As I love a plan, I’m especially grateful that my weeks now have a (small) sense of routine to them:

Monday: #1 goes to nursery so I can focus on #2 (and think back to how lucky I was with having just 1 to deal with – yet still being a total wreck)

Tuesday: Nanny takes #1 to Jumping Jacks, so a little break for #2 (#1 is very interested in #2, in a sweet, yet violent way)

Wednesday: Dad helps

Thursday: Wing it

Friday: Wing it

Saturday: #1 goes swimming (nice long nap after)

Sunday: Hope there is someone around to help / wing it

Today is Monday, a slightly less conventional Monday than most – I’d usually attempt to sneak a little sleep in while #1 was at nursery but today I had a physio appointment in the morning and #1s nursery day cut short for his first dentist appointment (poor little lamb landed face first on the kitchen lino covered concrete floor – blood everywhere and black gums, watch this space for either discoloured or absent teeth).  Knowing I had approximately an hour to get everything done I managed to sort out the mountain of washing, tidy up (shove toys in brightly coloured ikea furniture) and express.

Ahh, expressing.  I remember this from the days with #1.  A double electric pump, sterilising the three hundred attachments and fitting them together in the hope that they’d work.  Getting myself a freezer full of the good stuff only to find #1 refuse to take a bottle.  Flat. Out. Refuse.  There’s no reasoning with a baby, no “if you don’t drink this, you’ll be hungry”.  Nothing.  I remember quietly sobbing to myself as I thawed the milky ice pops in the sink, watching the milk swirl down the plug hole.  The exhaustion of expressing and feeding. Wasted.  Don’t get me wrong, I know I was lucky to be able to breastfeed etc etc but in that moment, liquid gold was draining away. Along with part of my soul.

Not this time, I tell myself.  This time I will express and give #2 a bottle earlier. Time check, great, 30 minutes to get this done.

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Plumbed in, I managed to spurt out a quick 150ml without interruption.

#2 took to the bottle without batting an eyelid, back to the breast without any fuss too.  I couldn’t be happier! Today is a parenting win for me. Today is a good day.  It’s important to remember the positives as well and the negatives, no matter how small they are (even though the less than glamourous mechanical sucking sound will stay with me for a long, long time).




Where to start…

My first blog. Where to start…

This is a blog for me, a blog for my sanity and somewhere to dump (and hopefully unscramble) some of my frustrated, frazzled “mummy thoughts”.

This time last year, I worked full time as a manager of a (mainly) fabulous team. My days went something like this:

Wake up, have breakfast, shower, get dressed, drive to work, turn laptop on, get coffee, work, have break, work, have lunch, work, go home, have dinner, go to bed. Pretty dull to some, but I like a routine, I like a plan.

Wind forward a year. I’m the proud owner of a 7 month old boy. He’s amazing, frustratingly, adorably amazing and I’d do anything for him.

Yesterday, he broke me. Not physically, and not for the first time. This blog is to help me learn from it then to file the experience away. Lock it up. Move on.

It was Monday. Monday’s are always tough, everyone I’m close to goes off to work. Back to their routines. Oh how I’d love a routine, some sort of normality. Yes, I know babies change you, I’ve read the posts from they keyboard warrior parents, the ones that only eat organic, the ones whose babies only play with educational toys, the single parents who still have their sh*t together, the ones whose babies have a routine. I applaud those parents but I’m not one of them, that’s a blog for another day.

Back to Monday. Little man decides 3am is the time to wake up. It’s not ideal, but I’ve had worse nights. You know, the ones at the beginning when their little tummies are so tiny they need to be fed every 2 hours etc etc. I know there is a reason for this, I wish he could talk, to tell me what’s wrong so I could help fix it. He can’t. I’ve tried everything. Actually no, that was the night before. This night Daddy can do it.

Is he hungry? I’m lucky enough to be able to breastfeed. I’m also trying to wean before returning to work. Feeding in the night isn’t helping so as tired as I am and as easy as it would be just to wop my boob out, I resist.

He’s chewing his bunny and his thumb and his gums are looking a little bumpy. Perhaps it’s those pesky teeth. Teething gel, calpol, cuddles all fail. Poor little man finally gives in at 7am. Daddy goes off to work and I’m feeling guilty for not letting him sleep.

8am, still sleeping, 9am still sleeping. I’m too scared (and tired) I’ll wake him to do anything useful, like shower. I can’t go back to bed, you’d be surprised how much room a 7 month old starfish can take up.

9:45am, he wakes up. He’s not happy. I smile at him and ask him if he slept well. His face says it all, he’s not happy. Not at all.

Maybe he’s hungry. After a cuddle I put him in his high chair. Breakfast today will be eggy fruit toast (thanks for the idea Katie) cut lovingly into soldiers: rejected. Baby rice: rejected. Yogurt (always a favourite): rejected. Baby rice cakes: rejected. Watermelon: rejected. When I say rejected, I mean smooshed into the high chair, table, carpet, his ear, hair…. I need help, who can I ask? Mum is off today, YES! But she has a study day. Bum. Text his dad to see if he’ll be home for lunch. He will, I’ve never been more grateful.

Little monkey wants milk. Tired, I give in. He rubs his sticky paws all over my stomach and falls asleep. I take him upstairs to his room for a nap and clear up the weaning carnage he’s created downstairs. Daddy comes home and we have some lunch, just the two of us. Daddy’s just about to leave when little man wakes up. I cry.

It’s ok, it’s nearly 1:30pm, the local Children’s Centre have an amazing group for 0-1 year olds. There are lovely sensory toys to play with, other babies to look at and interact with, tea, coffee and other mums in the same boat. Brilliant. I pop him in the car and off we go, parking ticket paid for, out of the car we get and into the Children’s Centre. I start signing us in and have a “I think I’m going to cry” moment. Any other day my not so tired brain would have told me that that was ok. Everyone else has had days like this and it’s perfectly acceptable. Not yesterday. Yesterday I crossed my name out, got back in the car and drove home in floods of tears. Kicking myself because I knew that little man loves that group and it would have been just what I needed.

I put little man on the floor with his toys and break my heart, crying like a baby. Big, sobs, dripping nose. I was a mess, I felt guilty that I had taken the opportunity to play with other babies from my baby. Remembering the articles on Facebook that say the first year of a babies life is the most important for stimulation blah, blah.. I’m lying on the lounge floor, my body shaking with my pathetic sobbing. Luckily little man is oblivious. I call his dad (I know I’m so lucky he was able to help), he comes home and tells me it’s ok and that I’m a good mum. I don’t feel like it, I start sobbing again. I’m tired, I’ve never known tiredness like this.

Hubby puts little man in his jumparoo, he’s smiling and bouncing. I can’t be that bad. Sometimes you just need a little bit of reassurance.

Being a mummy is tough. So tough. One of the lovely ladies at the Children’s Centre once told me that people that worked and/or had a set routine often found having a child the most difficult to adapt. She was right.

When you have a 7 month old, you’re considered an old hand. Able to cope. It’s ok to have bad days, I made it through and today is another day.

Get out, visit people, walk, go to the shop. Get in touch with the local Children’s Centre. You need to escape the four walls that feel like they’re closing in on you.

The days are long, but the weeks fly by.

Disclaimer: Excuse the typos, autocorrects and general use of words that don’t belong in the sentence I’ve chosen to put them in. I struggle with stringing a few words together, let alone having them make sense.