Wanted: Friends

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Today is a bit of a low day.

I don’t get them often. But today is a low day.

Today is a day when I want to be able to pick up a phone and call a friend. Maybe meet for coffee, arrange to go to the cinema or have a girly night in.

I want to feel a part of something.

But I’m not. 

I’ve always struggled with friends.  I find it so hard to push myself. And even when I have friends, I can be terribly flaky and some times I just can’t bear to do what I’ve arranged to do. I don’t blame people moving on and not keeping touch.

Is this being an introvert? Social anxiety?

I wish I could be the person I think I could be.

I am more aware now than ever that I need some friends. Depression and feeling crap due to pregnancy plus the  grief of my Dad meant I hadn’t really thought about it until now. But now I’m ready to be a friend. Hopefully a better friend than I have been these past 18 months.

So today I’ve reached out to people I’ve lost contact with, or who I’ve  not made much of an effort with. And if you may be reading this, I’m sorry about that.

I’m looking for groups to go to. I’m talking and messaging and trying to make some links again, on and offline.

I’m being practive, not wallowing in my low mood but pushing myself to do something about it. I think that’s progress really.

So I’m feeling low. But I’m also feeling strangely positive.  Because I’m Making today the first day in my plan to get myself back on track.

How Did I Do It?

No seriously……how?

I look at Nancy and wonder how the hell she is 3 years old. And then I think something else: I bloody did it.

I fed, I clothed,  I stayed awake, I sang, I cried. 3 years and here she is, telling me I’m wrong and some other rubbish about Blaze the Monster Machine.

Seems weird to me to say that I have successfully brought up another person for this time. That really her survival has been down to me and Dan (with help from relatives and Nursery of course). I don’t really know how we’ve even done it, not really. I have no nuggets of wisdom other than don’t drink too much.

The thought of having to do it again, go back to square one, is daunting. I can’t really remember much apart from feeling very tired and being covered in sick. Maybe I have suppressed memories which will come flooding back to me.

This time I am much more laid back. I haven’t even thought of names yet. I get confused as to how far along I actually am. I haven’t panicked yet but maybe that’s me being cool or maybe that’s me in complete denial.

It won’t be a shock this time. I’m already at a level of tired constantly so a bit more won’t hurt as much as last time. Last time the first week or so felt like I was being hit by a train at full speed. Im thinking this time it’ll be more like a car at 20mph.

Everything that felt alien to me before, and new is now my normal. Poo is normal. Sick is normal. Being tired is normal. I’m not quite sure how I’ve got to where I am, but it’s not a bad place to be. I feel quite honoured I get to do it all again. I know every baby is different but the fact I can look at Nancy and see I have actually brought her up so far and she’s actually not been scarred for life as a consequence, makes me feel quite proud.

Crochet the Fog away

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After my Dad’s death in November last year, as well as sadness,  a relief washed over me. The dark  cloud of terminal cancer that had hung over my family for the best part of 6 months, was gone.  I could start to look forward again.  I don’t mean that in a horrible, I-dont-care-about-my-dad way, but the emotional and mental trauma of living in limbo was unbearable. Not knowing when but knowing it would happen sometime. I felt trapped, stuck in a nightmare. Whatever happened, the future was going to be different.

I had spent months grieving with my Dad. By the time he passed away, I felt like I had no grief left. I was glad that he was at peace,  away from the cancer that ravaged his body and took away everything about him. 

Around the same time as my Dad’s diagnosis, I was not feeling myself. I had changed jobs at work, and I was struggling with getting to grips with new processes. I wasn’t sleeping well and Nancy was waking a few times each night and bedtimes were a constant battle. I began to feel anxious,  tired and worried. I was snappy and angry, very angry at the slightest thing. I became disengaged, not wanting to socialise and at work I was speaking my mind (which was a bit angry and ragey) which was raising eyebrows.  I wasn’t myself. All this on top of my Dad diagnosed with a terminal illness. I worried about him, my Mum, my younger sister with learning difficulties. I felt duty bound to help sort it all out and I was overwhelmed by a feeling of burden,  being my mother’s oldest child, of how I would get us all through this. I’d always been the helper, the one who sorted everyone else out. My fingers were gripping the edge of normality and I was starting to slip.

I went to the GP and was prescribed an anti depressant. However, I didn’t take it. I felt stupid, silly, overreacting. I pushed it to the back of my mind and carried on until the day I walked out of work before a presentation I was supposed to undertake. I went home that day and was then signed off work for 6 weeks.

Medication alone, I don’t think, can help with this kind of illness. You need time to refresh, time to talk if you feel you need to, and you need space to be yourself away from the stresses of life. I felt that I had totally lost who I was.

I had mentioned I wanted to learn to crochet a while back. I had tried myself with you tube for help a few years ago, but I gave up pretty quickly.

For my birthday I received a gift voucher for crochet lessons. I was intrigued and wanted to give it a go. However, the next lessons didn’t start till the end of November, so I booked in and didn’t think much of it.

I had my first crochet lesson about a week after my Dad had died. The timing was not brilliant and I did contemplate not going. It felt a bit of a stupid thing to do given the circumstances. But the lesson was booked and having a few hours to myself sounded a good idea. I was nervous though.

The 2 hour lesson was a complete relief; I thought of nothing except about what I was doing right at that moment. We crocheted a granny square and the sense of achievement I felt was a new feeling for me. For the first time in 6 weeks I felt almost normal again.

Picking up the crochet hook meant that I could do something physical, use my brain and have time just for me to contemplate, reflect and relax. I felt that by making something, it was a positive coming from my negative mind. It felt healing. It felt therapeutic.

6 months on, I feel much better now. I still have some low days but these are manageable. Having a new craft, a new hobby has really helped me feel like I’ve moved on from all those negative thoughts. I miss my Dad and I always will. Crochet hasn’t cured me but it gave me an outlet I didn’t previously have. It has given me a love of crafting and a desire to try more things and be a bit more adventurous. Things I find interesting and engaging. Things just for me. And that was really what I needed.

Pregnancy Cravings

Everyone knows when you’re pregnant, you get loads of cravings, right?

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I’m craving……

-Peace and quiet

-Cereal

-A lie in

-A day free from frozen

-Maternity clothing that actually fits

-Lots of warm tea

-Brie

-To be able to sit and watch Netflix for a few hours…or days

-Sleep

-A day to myself

-Energy

-A roast dinner

-A clean kitchen floor

-90s music

-The Archers

-A packet of Haribo. No sharing.

-An evening just lying on the sofa

-Er did I say sleep already?

-A bath. Without visitors or plastic tat

-A house that I can instagram

-A sequin bomber jacket like Taylor Swift

-Jelly

Are we not allowed to have opinions anymore?

I love a good debate. I love talking to others about a range of topics and I like to hear others opposing views.

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Having strong opinions and being able to discuss and justify your beliefs are very important skills. Listening to others point of view,  accepting other people will think differently,  and sometimes even conceding someone may have a better point then you to make, are even more important arguably and something I admit I haven’t fully got the hang of yet.

Yes, there are times I may think people are Knobheads for their opinions (look at anything Donald Trump says) but this is part and parcel of being human. We all get hot headed at times. We may all fume at headlines or quotes of what people have said. We may read blog posts that set our souls alight with rage. Maybe we just don’t like what someone has written because it’s just really badly written.

You will at some point say something flippant and “bitchy” because as I said, we are human. It shouldnt be the norm but you have to accept that its a part of life. All of us have people we don’t like for whatever reasons.

However there is a difference in thinking these things and writing them down for all to see.

Parenting is difficult enough. There are so many choices and ways of doing this. There is no manual so there is no right or wrong way. Yet others out there have a manical, evangelical attitude to try and convert the world to whatever it is they are passionate about. Nappies, feeding, clothing, menstrual supplies, car seats and buggies are all topics I have seen this happen to recently.

My question is: Are we not allowed to have opinions anymore?

There are those who will always stick to the most common and well liked opinion; the safe option maybe.

There are those who sit on the fence and tread the thin line between one opinion or the other.

There are those who will totally disagree and may believe something totally different.

That is life.

We can’t like everyone all of the time. People seem desperate to be on the “right” side of a debate and seem to have saccharine opinions in an aim to please the most popular people. To be in the “in” crowd.

People are scared to say what they actually think for fear of a backlash within their (I’m talking online here) communities.

No matter what happens in life, you can’t avoid confrontation. Someone, somewhere at some time will disagree with you.

I’m getting tired of seeing how critical others can be of opposing views which buck against the popular consensus. I’m tired of seeing those who will criticise others for daring to say what they think or believe.

Healthy debate is good; and if you disagree with someone I think you should say it.  In a mature way.

We will all never get on. The world is not a Diet Coke advert with us all holding hands singing “I’d like to teach the world to sing”. Having a different opinion is ok. Agreeing to disagree is something you CAN do.

It’s the way we all deal with these opinions which need to change. I am sure I am guilty of all these things at some time in my life, I’ll be the first to admit.

It’s OK to agree; it’s OK to disagree. I’m going to try from now on to remember that and respect it.

My Life with a Threenager

This is my life now…..

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Lying in the dark, listening to the Frozen Soundtrack.

Making a hot chocolate without cream that should have been with cream but they weren’t going to drink it anyway but still they wanted, didn’t want the cream.

You’re Elsa when Anna sings but you’re Anna when Elsa sings, OK? Basically you don’t sing. At all.

Watching Ben and Holly until you believe you are actually an elf *blows trumpet*

Eating tomatoes at nursery, but not at home.

Playing matching card games with a complete cheat. And making sure they win or else there’s big trouble.

Pushing the trike around whilst she peddles madly screaming “we need more speed!” in an attempt to accost other children in the park.

Everyone’s her best friend. Or they’re not. But they are.

Laughing manically whilst she smears expensive hand cream into the sofa.

Watching an evolving sense of style which includes using a coat for trousers.

Figuring out answers to questions such as “Who made the steering wheel?” And “Why do we have tables?”

Not touching anything without first being told to. But when I’m told to touch something check it’s in the right way.

Clearly not understanding very simple instructions.

Finding things which have been taken from various places such as nursery or my dressing table hidden in pockets.

Making up bedtime stories but being told exactly what needs to happen in the story and it then taking a very long time to complete the story which is nothing like how it started.

Furniture being used as balance beams and trampolines and wishing she didn’t like gymnastics so much

Wanting the new baby to be called Cupcake

Experimenting with make up such as nail polish for lipstick

Feeling so very tired and wondering why you have such a spirited child

What They Don’t Tell You About Breastfeeding, Jamie Oliver

Breastfeeding has become less about the feeding. It’s lost sight of what it actually is: a way to feed your child. It is a physiological event that occurs in the mother.  For the child.

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Obviously it’s the natural way to feed your child.  But that doesn’t mean there is an innate inbuilt switch in all of us that suddenly starts to work the moment you have a baby.

Antenatally,  your midwife will tell you about breastfeeding; hands you a bunch of leaflets about how good it is.

They don’t tell you HOW you do it, though. 

I remember being in the antenatal “breastfeeding” class. Being given a doll to put at my breast. Thats it.

No talk of how latch is important; how skin to skin is VITAL as soon as the baby has been born; how if you have pethidine or have to have forceps or a venteuse, this can mean it is more difficult to start feeding. 

They didn’t mention hand expressing, or how to collect precious colostrum in a tiny syringe when you’ve been awake for 48 hours already. 

They forgot to mention  how it can really, really hurt. That your boobs are sore and your nipples red raw. No amount of Lanishoh is going to help.

They don’t explain that once you’ve had the baby, no matter what time or how tired you are, you are expected to know what you’re doing. You’re given more leaflets and an A4 feeding chart to complete that you can barely read as you’ve been awake so long that you’re delirious.

You see other women pressing the call bell, asking for help so you do the same. A health care assistant opens your curtain, and looks unimpressed as you ask for help. What do I do. The answer is for the health care assistant to yank the baby’s head and grab your breast and roughly attempt a latch.

When this fails more syringes; health care assistant now hand expressing your breast; milking you like a cow. And you let them because you’re starting to lose the plot. Is this a dream.

No one tells you, antenatally, that your baby will be weighed every few days; and if your baby loses too much weight, then you stay in hospital. Or go back in.

That even though you may be trying to get the perfect latch, constantly attaching baby to breast, thinking you’re doing well, that when they tell you your baby has lost an ounce, how crushing that can be. How worthless you feel. How you feel you’re letting down your child. 

How very shit you feel every time you press that call bell. How people’s looks and tone of voice can make you feel so small.

When people ask if your milk has come in, you don’t know. Because antenatally,  they told you your boobs would swell; how they would leak milk and you would ‘feel’ it. But you don’t feel any of this. Milk is there, but it’s not pouring out of your breasts as they told you.

They ask if you can feel the  “let down” when feeding.  You feel nothing.  Your boobs don’t ache. You wake up with wet patches on your tops but there just isn’t enough milk. Maybe it will happen in time they say.

Is it day 4 baby blues, or are you actually depressed?  You don’t know. You’re in a nightmare you can’t get out of.

No one tells you, how at 3am after a baby has been screaming for hours, how a well meaning midwife will causally mention that not everyone can breastfeed; why don’t you let us give your baby a cup of formula; maybe you can express on the machine. It’s not the end of the world if you can’t.  How if you gave a little formula, baby would gain weight and you could go home. 

And how your resolve starts to crush; you’re tired and low, so low.  And this person is being nice to you. And you so desperately want to go home.

How the relief in the midwifes eyes as you tell them to cup feed formula. How your heart breaks at how thirstily your baby gulps this foreign liquid down. 

How once you’ve done this, how they can’t get you out of hospital quick enough. 

They don’t tell you how, postnatally,  as you’re leaving, you ask for breastfeeding group information; breastfeeding counsellors; people who can help you. As you haven’t given up.

And they don’t tell you that these people, these people who haven’t helped you at all, they don’t know. Ask your health visitor,  they will tell you.

They look at you as if to say, “but why bother???”

Why didn’t I know this all before?  You will ask.  No-one tells you this antenatally.

You will go home and read about Breastfeeding and realise where you went wrong. Where they went wrong. Right at the very beginning. At 2.10am on your child’s birth day.

That even when you are home, the nightmare continues. Every day is a struggle but you do it. But this is anything but a nice experience.  How your first weeks with your newborn child will forever feel like the worst weeks of your life.

And this, Jamie Oliver, is the issue.  Not women making choices.  Not being brainwashed by formula companies. It is women not having the right preperation, the right support. To do what they have chosen to do.

Because for some women out there, it is not that easy.

Pregnancy Perks and Pitfalls

There’s got to be some perks to this pregnancy lark….right?

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Pregnancy Perks

Not having to pay for the dentist

Being able to get out of anything by saying you’re pregnant

Being able to sit down on buses or stare at people intently rubbing your belly until they let you have their seat. Or give you a sandwich.

Having naps at work

Free prescriptions!

Being able to swim whatever time of the month

Not having to buy any tampons or sanitary towels! Take that VAT loving government!

Not having periods! For 9 months!

Just letting it all hang out. The freedom of not having to suck your stomach in.

If you’re a bit fat (like me) then you will get no annoying “are you pregnant” type questions as people are too afraid to ask

Wearing pyjamas all the time and no one telling you it’s wrong

Bring able to eat whatever you like! No Worrying about dieting….

Being able to fart whenever you like and that’s OK because you’re pregnant

Suddenly getting the energy to plan house redecoration, crafts, spring cleaning the house and pinteresting like a mo’fo

Crying at anything and everything but people don’t mind because you’re pregnant

Being able to get out of any kind of physical labour such as hoovering or lifting 3 year olds

Pregnancy pitfalls

Not being able to have any actual treatment at the dentist because you’re pregnant

Not being able to take Lemsip

Not actually being able to take some medication you can get for free

Not being able to reach and therefore manage your bikini line

uncontrollable flatulence

Forgetting to wake up after a nap

Not being able to eat all the nice cheese. And paté.

Not having any alcohol.

Discovering how you dance sober.

Knowing the mother of all periods will await you in 9 months time

Feeling so sick you can’t do anything you’ve planned

Getting stuck in the car, wedged between the steering wheel. And always beeping the horn when you try and get out.

People assuming you can’t do anything because you’re pregnant. Like run. Or have a bath.

As soon as you get pregnant, you suddenly get invites to parties, weddings, hen dos, holidays and every social event on the calender. Which you then have to attend. Sober.

Bearing in mind the last 12 months your social calender looked pretty empty….

Being the designated driver.

Thoughts on Pregnancy: Second Time Round

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I had just come to the conclusion that one child was plenty enough thank you,  when I found out I was pregnant.

My first thought was: oh shit.

My second thought was: oh shit, I can’t drink anything now.  HOW AM I GOING TO COPE?!

My third thought was: oh god, I’m not going to sleep until 2020.

Don’t get me wrong, I am pleased that we are having another baby. It’s taken long enough. But this time things are just a bit different.

When people ask me “is this pregnancy different to the first?” I immediately think: of course this pregnancy is different.

For a start, I’ve been sleep deprived for most of the last 3 years. So, you know, that adds a little edge to things. Also, this time I can’t just lie on the sofa and do nothing all evening when I feel ill. This time, I have a three year old who still wants you to hold them as you walk along the pavement and who wants me to be the fairy godmother when she’s playing Cinderella.

This time around, I have no time (or energy for that matter) for yoga or swimming. I am drinking too much caffiene and I accidentally ate a cheese board the day after I found out I was pregnant because I forgot about the whole “don’t eat cheese” thing.

This time, I hardly have any time to actually think I am pregnant at all.

I also have the benefit/disadvantage of knowing exactly what I’ve let myself in for. I can learn from my previous experience and I know for sure what I want and don’t want to happen this time. But I know one thing I can’t avoid and that is I’ll still have to push this Bubba out of my Va-Jay-Jay. And I know it fricking hurts.

This time, I pay a fleeting glance to emails telling me my baby weighs the same as an avocado. I don’t have the 26 apps I had last time, all telling me the same information that I poured over night after night. I bought actual books last time to read and studied like I was a student midwife.

I might try and do some pelvic floor excersizes on the way to work if I sneeze and start to panic, unlike the military set schedule I had 3 years ago. (Seriously I bet I could’ve cracked nuts with my pelvic floor).

I don’t have to buy anything this time round; I have everything going moldy in the garage. I just need to have a day sometime to go and bleach it all down. But I have plenty of time for that.

I am not sure if I can be described as “glowing” second time round. I frequently forget to brush my hair and put make up on, meaning I look more like a character out of The Walking Dead each day. Hell, I haven’t even shaved my legs this year yet. I used to pour over maternity sections in shops choosing jeans and dresses that accentuated my bump. This time I’m just wearing leggings and baggy dresses. Looking like a pregnant bag lady is quite a skill you know.

Oh, and symptoms: if you’re any different to last time (which, in fairness was 3 years ago so how could you even remember) then you must be having a boy. Or a girl. Or a hairy baby.

I know I am lucky to experience this again. I am grateful for this experience, no matter how tired I am or messy looking I become. Once August is here, we will have our little family complete and that will be a great feeling. I am looking forward to baby snuggles and seeing Nancy’s face when she sees her brother or sister.

And also, I’ll never have to be pregnant again.

Answers to the question Why?

Answers to children’s most irritating questions….

WHY?

Well, because it is.

Because that’s what someone named them.

Who knows?

I’m not sure really.

What made you think of that?

I don’t know why daddy always leaves the loo seat up. Beats me.

Why are you asking me that?

Because we have to share a birthday cake. You can’t eat it all.

Because it wouldn’t be nice!

Well I don’t shout actually I just talk a bit loudly at times.

It’s just the way it is.

Because the Police told me so.

Because if you don’t sleep you won’t grow and if you don’t grow you won’t be able to reach anything yourself one day.

Well that’s what I eat.
No you don’t eat meat because you don’t.
Because you don’t.

Ask your Daddy.

Let’s think about that overnight shall we?

Everyone eats their dinner first.

Well babies can’t talk because they’re too small.

Something to do with clouds which go Grey and then there’s hot and cold air and….erm…well the sky just makes a big noise.

It’s one of life’s mysteries.
It’s something that we don’t know about.
It’s a secret.

I’m not sure why.

I’m not sure why I don’t know why.

Do you want some sweets?