Finding Mummy

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I feel more like myself now than I ever have. Before I had Nancy,  I worried that I would lose myself, but to be honest I feel like by having Nancy, I found myself.

I feel more confident, more sure of my decisions and I am not afraid to express them. I think the first initial months with Nancy taught me that no-one has the “right” answer and that you need to go with your own gut instinct.

I like how I look like now. Yes I could lose a few pounds but I actually like what I wear and I’m confident in what I choose to wear. I wear the make-up I want to, and when I wear lipstick,  I don’t feel stupid.

I’m starting to explore hobbies, interests, things that I can learn and grow and develop. Things I never did before. What did I used to do before? I had so much time yet I never did anything remotely satisfying with it. Now I’m crocheting, reading, gardening. I’m getting interested in politics and I’m interested in learning sewing, knitting and whatever else pops into my head.

And now, things are going to change. I’m pregnant and due in August. Now the ground will shift and we have to adjust to “normal” again.

Will I have to find myself again?

Maybe it won’t be as bad this time. Things won’t change as much, but things will shift. Being a mother to 2 will be different to 1. I will have to devote myself to another for as long as needed. I will have to forgo sleep and put my life on hold.

A part of me doesn’t want to do that. A part of me wants to just be me. The me I have found these past 3 years.

But this time, I will be in control. I will know what to expect. I don’t have to let go so much. I am looking forward to this time, I really am. Focusing on my family, a baby to love and be a sibling for Nancy. Completing my family and just taking time out to live in that delicious postnatal bubble.

The unknown is worrying, unsettling. But I have to see the positive in this situation and remember that I am stronger, more confident and more sure of myself than I ever have been in my life so far. Right now.

This baby is lucky in many ways because I know who I am now. Me and Nancy had to work that out together. We had to figure out what it was that made me a mother. It was tough, but what a journey we’ve had, and are still having and I’m looking forward to sharing that with someone else too.

Crochet Corner 

My adventures into the world of crochet…..

This month I have discovered YouTube for the delights of crochet. Oh, and Pinterest. It is down to Pinterest that I have discovered Wooly Wonders Crochet on YouTube, absolutely brilliant and easy to follow directions to make a variety of crocheted items.

I wanted to make a baby cardigan and I tried her tutorial here.
The whole thing was remarkably easy and this is the finished product:

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I’d never thought about using YouTube for a pattern but it’s been really useful to actually see how the stitches are done and what each part of a pattern means.

After my cardigan, I’ve tried another Wooly Wonders Crochet pattern – A Tulip dress. This was very simple but has helped me enormously as I’ve managed to get to grips with decreasing stitches and also sewing parts together! I’ve made this for my niece and I can’t wait to see her in it.

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I’ve had a look at some facebook/etsy crochet and yarn shops this month too. I treated myself to the Rainbow Yarn Club box from Rainbow Fusions which was lovely and I also bought another skein of yarn (called Acid rain). I’m not really sure what to use them for yet. I’m also thinking I need to wind the yarn up into a ball before I use it? Not sure but I’ll give it a go and report back!

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My current project is a chevron cowl/scarf pattern in Inside Crochet magazine a month or so ago. I’ve never tried chevron but the pattern is described as “easy” so let’s see! I’m using alpaca wool as well which I haven’t before. Let’s see how it all turns out!

I’m really enjoying crochet and like a book, once I’ve finished a project I feel like I need to reflect a bit before I choose something else to make. I love the whole process and feel at last like I have a true hobby that really does give me real satisfaction.

I am keen in the future to pick up my knitting needles again and also to get a sewing machine (I did textiles GCSE but haven’t touched one since then!!). Crochet has sparked off my imagination and a crafty side of me I thought I didn’t have!

I’d love to see what you’ve been making or any tips, good patterns or signpost me to where to buy cheap yarn or other accessories.

Happy Crocheting! Xx

The Dance Class: A Parent’s Reality

The realities of taking a 3 year old to Dance Classes…..

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Realities of Dance Classes for Parents

Last year I thought it was a great idea to sign Nancy up to dance lessons. It was one of those thoughts, where you think ‘it’s probably time I left the house and started to initiate her into a social world,’ and in paticular I was looking for something for her to do so that she gets worn out and I didn’t neccessarily need to do much to achieve it. It suddenly dawned on me that athletes, musicians or dancers started this stuff when they were really small. So in order to ensure she has the best chance of turning into the next superstar, I duly signed her up.

She actually attends a lovely dance class where she does Tap and Ballet every Saturday. I didn’t think when I signed her up, though, how much of a commitment it is for me, and how you get sucked into the world of dance classes. This is the reality of The Ballet Class:

1.The Early Start

I have to get up every Saturday morning and get her to Ballet for 9.15am in the morning. On a SATURDAY. What the hell was I thinking?

2. Uniform

Every week she has to wear the dance uniform. Which comprises of a leotard, tights and a caridigan, as well as the right shoes. Not only did it cost me a fortune, I have to remember to wash* it and make her look presentable as well as getting her to the start for 9.15am. On a SATURDAY….

I also am still ramming her into the leotard as I refuse to buy one until at least September. Same goes for the shoes, I ordered them a size larger and it was only when she wore them the first time I realised they could slightly affect her dance skills, but she’s better now she’s grown into them a bit.

*I admit there may be weeks where the uniform may not get washed and she may look slightly dishevlled and smell slightly like a PE kit.

3.  Waiting

When I signed her up for classes, I couldn’t wait to watch her in her cute little pink uniform and watch her gracefully piroet around. Well, I wouldn’t know what she actually does, as I have to wait outside the class in a cold church hall. I can’t go anywhere in case I need to help her get to the loo.  It is 45mins of pure me time though, I guess, as long as I take a jumper and a flask.

4. Other Parents

The waiting room looks like a parent wasteland. I’ve seen some parents in their Pyjamas, although I haven’t done that yet. Some look hungover, some look tired. Some look absolutely pristine and as if they’d just got off the jet from St. Tropez. Not many people talk to each other, and seats in the corners by the dividing door to the class are a premium, as you can spy on your child through a crack. My idea of meeting more Mum friends hasn’t really become a reality as yet….

5. Noise

No-one thought to tell me that  group of 3-5 year olds in a tap class are LOUD. There is half an hour of out of rythmn, tap tap tapping as well as children roaring like lions or singing the Frozen theme tune whilst they stomp about the hall like elephants. Also, the teacher is loud. She has to be, to keep it in order. I sometimes wonder if she needs a drink after the class.

6. Progress

I keep taking her, because she seems to enjoy it. But can she actually dance? I have no idea. mainly because we are always too late so I can’t look through the crack to see if she is actually moving. I ask her to show me what she does at home but all I get is a roaring lion and a shuffle on the kitchen floor. So we keep on, keeping on. Maybe I have the next Darcy Bussell right here….

7. Once you join, you can never leave

Once you’re a fully signed up member of the dance class, attempts to leave are futile. You need to give one term’s notice to leave, and not that we are planning to, but I would never be as organised as to work out when that would be! I can barely remember NOT to turn up when it’s half term….

8. You do as you are told

If the teacher tells you to buy something, you buy it. You label all the clothing as you don’t want to get told off by the teacher. You get your fees paid on time and you sit there every week and smile even though you may be dying inside.

9. The Car Park

The car park is a war zone. The later you are, the more likely you are to abandon your car in the middle of the car park, blocking off 5 cars in the process. Some people wedge themselves sideways just so that they can park in the car park. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a school at pick up time, but parents plus cars equals carnage. I am surprised no-one has been run over as yet. Once the first class ends, the real issues begin as people attempt to leave, and the next class attempt to park.

 

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.