How I’ve Built Confidence in Ted

baby, Mum, Uncategorized

I’m no parenting expert- I’m far from it- but I’m always happy to share my experiences, tips and tricks. Somehow me, an insecure, anxious mess, is raising a confident, wild spirit of an individual and it makes me proud everyday watching his personality blossom. I am really pleased with the confidence Ted has around other people, in his abilities and with learning new things, and although I fully believe some of that is down to the natural characteristics he has likely been born with, I know that some of that too is down to the attitudes of both Rob and I and our parenting style. What we do might not be to everyone’s taste or standard, but it’s what works for us and what has helped in making Ted who he is.

I think it’s pretty safe to say we are quite laid back in our parenting style. Don’t get me wrong, if Ted does anything he shouldn’t he is definitely told off, but in terms of his routine we are fairly flexible and have always made his naps, bedtime, feeds, meals, etc. work around us rather than us around him. It doesn’t matter if Ted needs a nap at 11 and a friend wants to meet at half past- Ted will wait and nap later. If family want to see Ted one evening then he will stay up later and entertain so they can see him. He doesn’t need to eat a certain time and always eats what we eat. Our flexability in our schedule I think has really helped build Ted’s confidence, as living life on a strict schedule is not realistic and reflective of a normal life, and therefore our laid-backness has led to him being one chilled little man who takes it as it comes.

Being surrounded by a big family and lots of friends has really helped Ted grow as a little person and become sociable. From the day he was born he has been passed from grandparent to uncle to aunt for cuddles and he has loved every second of it. Spending a lot of time at nursery too, amongst other children and adults, has definitely encouraged him to come out of his shell. It helped that when on my mat leave, I refused to ever spend a day at home. We went out every single day even if just for a walk to the park and back. It’s not healthy for anyone to spend all their time with just one other person, and by surrounding myself with company, he always was as well. Even now every weekend we still have to fill with activity and venturing out. Although it can be tiring, the enjoyment far outweighs that. It helps that we have not been over protective of him either, and always given him the opportunity to spend the day with grandparents- and I’m sure they love that too!

I completely agree that children can sense emotion and any sort of panic, and it’s difficult to hide that when your little human is doing risky things (like climbing- eek!) for the first time. We have let him explore and learn from his mistakes, making sure that he tries again. Even if it is something physical, and I’m not sure he can do it, I let him try anyway- and 9 times out of 10 he proves me wrong!

I want this boy to know that he can take over the world- and I’m pretty sure he already thinks he can! The tantrums have started and boundaries are being pushed, but all of the stubborn in him is so worth it for all the fun-loving enthusism in him. I believe the best way to build confidence in Ted is plenty of praise, lots of opportunity, and learning from a wealth of wonderful people.

How I Parent

baby, Breastfeeding, Mum, Routine, Uncategorized

I’ve been getting messages on Instagram recently from mums who want to know how I do things. How I manage, how I cope, how I parent.

First of all, I love that we all parent in different ways and I love that the choices we make form each of our little individuals and their unique personalities. Coming up in the next few weeks will be a blog I have written about choice and how many choices mother’s are expected to make, and I guess this one is a post about the choices that I have made in parenthood.

Secondly, I find it laughable that people perceive me as someone who copes and manages well. I’m a constant collective of organised and calm, and a complete anxious mess. I guess it depends what day/week you catch me on and which of my many moods I may be in. Despite that, I’m always happy to share what has worked for me.

Like a complete hippy, I wanted everything with Ted to be as natural as possible and nothing to be forced. I guess I’ve suceeded in some areas of that and failed in others. I wish I’d done things like breastfeed for longer, weaned more slowly and used cloth nappies. But that’s what round 2 will be for, right?!

I chose not to use dummies. As a newborn Ted used his nursing for comfort largely and although there were times (normally whilst I was awake at 4am wondering why I’d spent more time awake that night than asleep) that I didn’t know how I’d cope, Rob and I realised that there weren’t any points when we actually needed it. Ted eventually in his own time has learned to self soothe. Teething has never been a massive problem for us other than his sleep stealing, and whenever he is upset I go through the mental checklist in my head of what may be upsetting him until we find an answer.

Working in education, I’m driven to making sure I teach and educate Ted the best I can. We read to him often and limit his TV time as much as possible. Part of educating him for me too has always been by surrounding him with positive people and experiences. Taking him to the farm, drawing, letting him help me with mundane tasks, visiting family often, attempting to play sport together, visits to parks, letting him run around and be a free spirit. He is turning into such a sweet little soul, and I put so much of that down to making sure we leave the house every single day, come rain and shine

I chose to breastfeed until Ted was 13 months. The choice to stop then was more his choice than mine. He’d had enough and would push away and I knew it was time to stop. I’m so proud of our journey with feeding and that my choice made him the super strong little lad he is now.

Our sleep journey with Ted has been a challenging one and we have slowly and gently weaned him off of being fed to sleep, rocked to sleep and now left to fall asleep himself. I’m glad we have let him find his own way with sleep and that we have finally got to a good place with it. Maybe our decision to feed and rock him to sleep made the sleep situation worse, but for us it was the best choice based on what our boy needed at the time.

I chose to go back to work full time, and consequently chose to put Ted into a nursery full time. I needed work to stay sane as spending that amount of time at home wasn’t good for me, and luckily nursery has been a breeze for Ted. It’s made him a confident, independent child and bought out nothing but the best in him. I think we were lucky that we just found the right place and that he slipped into his new routine with minimal problems.

Being the ultra-feminist I am, everything is evenly split between me and Rob and I am so grateful for that. Particularly since being back at work, I’m so grateful for all that he does to keep me sane, keep us fed and help keep the household running smoothly. I honestly don’t know how some women do it, so massive shout out to them!

I’m the mum who likes to cuddle often, but I’m firm when Ted pushes the boundaries. I want to raise Ted understanding that he must work hard in order to get what he wants. I guess my values in life are reflected in my parenting style- kindness, persistence and education.

The more I think about it, the more I realise that how I parent is how my parent’s parent, and I’m lucky to have those role models in place. How they grandparent is funnily enough also how my grandparent’s grandparent- constantly trying to feed me, showering me with affection and adoration and allowing cheekiness that parent’s don’t!

It’s important that we share what works for us, as it may help others make decisions about how they do things. How do you parent?

Mummy’s First Sick Day

Mum, Uncategorized, Working Mum

Last week I had two days off work with sickness, and for something I thought would be pretty straight forward and uncomplicated, it’s bought with it a range of unexpected emotion.

I saw a quote online the other day about a woman who as a child could never understand why her mum was never ill, and as she grew up and became a mother herself she realised that actually mums do get ill, they just have no choice but to carry on like they are perfectly well.

It’s so hard to stay upbeat, keep calm and stay smiling when all you want to do is curl up into the foetal position like the big baby you are and just sleep it off. You have to put a full shift in of mumming before you can even begin to think about yourself. But what took me back was the amount of guilt I was feeling…

Seeing Ted off to nursery with daddy, whilst I lay on the sofa snuggled up in the biggest, cosiest jumper I own and a blanket up to my chin made me feel terrible. I wanted to see Ted off at nursery and see his happy little face when picking him up. I wanted to walk him in and answer him every single time he points and says ‘what’s that?’ at every bird, dog and plane. Sitting at home without him was lonely and despite being ill, I felt bad that he was in the care of someone else when I was there. When Ted started nursery, one of the things we talked about was how when we were unwell we wouldn’t need to look after him and we would have time to properly recover. In reality, I missed him and wanted him there with me more than anything else.

I’ve always hated being off sick. To be honest, I’m the sort of person who would rather be in work and I don’t like sitting and doing nothing. Especially since Ted has been born, I’ve felt that every moment is so precious and shouldn’t be wasted and feeling ill always feels like a waste of time to me. I try and fill my time up as much as possible and that sometimes leaves me drained and exhausted. I’m determined to leave behind something to be proud of, so I work hard at work, I work hard at home and I put my absolute all into everything.

Actually, what I should be doing is making the most of those rare days I get to myself to relax and look after myself. I forget that for Ted to be okay, I have to be okay too.

Mummy Mental Health

Mental Health, Mum, Uncategorized

My mental health is something I’ve never really been fully open about, and especially not on this scary platform for all to read. I have always really battled with my mental health, and have felt most of my adult life has been dominated by some particular demons.

When I was 20, I was diagnosed with moderate depression and severe anxiety, and although I wouldn’t say I suffer from either now, I remain an anxious person and find myself constantly struggling with my brain to ensure I don’t find myself in a position of not coping again. I didn’t want to live with labels above my head or use them as barriers. I worked bloody hard to feel all the good in me again.

I went through a summer of CBT sessions and I think these helped to the extent that it was the first time I really laid down the facts about how I was feeling and addressed things that went back as far as the age of 5. On the other hand, I found some of the techniques used in CBT weren’t for me and just filled my brain with more to think about. I constantly found myself looking for answers and the reasons why, rather than just dealing with the issue. This is still one of my hang ups now. In fact, sometimes I find myself questioning other’s behaviour more than anything else.

I worked out that if I wanted to feel better, it was going to have to come from me and I was going to have to do it myself. I read so many books about mental health and coping strategies. I kept journals of my thoughts and feelings and even had a notebook I created myself full of inspirational and motivational quotes and pictures of all the things I loved. I volunteered in the library and desktop publishing department of my now workplace. I threw myself into my degree, completing it long distance so I could do it at home and achieved 80+% in the 3 modules I was covering over that period of time. I came such a long way in such a short period of time and I could really focus on me.

I’ve always had issues with my self image and don’t think very highly of myself. I have a constant fear of not achieving or not being good enough. I come across to most, especially since Ted has been born, as a confident, happy individual. And to be completely honest, I am a happy and confident person too most the time, but I often need reminding of that.

My biggest fear as a parent is that Ted might one day struggle like I have. I know I can’t stop that from happening, but I hope I’m showing him the most appropriate way of dealing with things and that this will impact on him as he gets older. I guess at this moment in time, my new hurdle to overcome is being back at work full time and rejiggling the juggle of mum and work. Learning how to be there for my boy, but also be a professional.

Being a mum is the best thing I’ve ever experienced, and it has been the best way for me to deal with things that would typically and previously bother me greatly. My head now works in such a way that I prioritise how I feel about certain things and what deserves the most time and attention. Also having a little bundle of energy (I realise I’ve started calling him that a lot in these blogs now) running away from you and showing you all the new things he can do everyday is an amazing, wonderful distraction.

Despite my struggles, I am a strong woman. I hold my shit together when I feel like everything else is falling apart, and I just deal with it (after a meltdown or two…) Anything you can do, I can do on 2 hours sleep or vomiting every 15 minutes (pregnancy wasn’t the best for me) or with a 1 year old in my other arm. When my mental health begins to deteriorate, I bounce back. I’m working twice as hard to prove my worth, working full time, writing a book, keeping my blog updated regularly, planning a podcast, planning a masters, as well as attempting to keep my flat tidy and trying my best to be a dream mum for Ted.

I guess my point is, being a mum makes you rethink and reprioritise. Your every worry is now focused on the impact that will have on your child rather than you. Your usual self care becomes more of a team care and there’s no room for selfishness. Since becoming a mum, I’ve been less concerned with my own feelings, and sometimes they aren’t important enough for me to deal with, but the key thing is that no matter how many times people tell you and you don’t listen, you are so important. You need to think about you sometimes and that could be anything from having a nice bath with candles, or going for a walk or run, or a girl’s weekend away to clear your head and have fun. It breaks my heart seeing so many mothers struggle and battle each day because they’ve been taught that looking after themselves should come last, when really we need to look after ourselves so we are fully refreshed to look after our little ones.

Mum’s were people before we were mums and we need to remember that! Look after yourselves ❤

Breastfeeding Myths Debunked

Breastfeeding, Mum

I am so so passionate about breastfeeding. I honestly believe it is one of the most beautiful things in the world, and how incredible is it that our bodies produce a substance so perfect for our babies? There is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding breastfeeding and I love talking to people about it and ‘debunking’ myths that some have about breastfeeding. I’ve picked out some common things I’ve heard over the last year to try and raise a better understanding. I’m no medical expert, but I am a mum who has done her research, is enthusiastic and would love to support other women in their breastfeeding journeys!

“Expressing milk will show how much you have.”

This varies so much depending on the individual. I was really lucky and from the moment Ted was born I could pump about 5 ounces in 5 minutes. Other women aren’t as lucky though, and can only get 1 in 10 minutes at times! This is no reflection of how much milk you are actually producing. Remember that pumping milk is not a natural process. It stimulates the nipple, but it is the saliva in a babies mouth that encourages the production of milk.

“My baby feeds too much- I’m not producing enough milk.”

All I really need to say here is CLUSTER FEEDING. Oh my god… No one warned me about CF before my son was born and if I hadn’t have researched it I would have thought the exact same thing. I had a very very hungry baby. He’d want milk 10 minutes after his last feed and every night would feed for hours and hours before bed.

“My boobs are soft and not full anymore so I think my milk has dried up.”

You probably don’t like the look of them now they’ve gone soft, but honestly, this is a good thing. It means your supply has settled and your producing just the right amount. That full feeling might come back from time to time and they won’t stay like that after feeding. I finished feeding 3 weeks ago and my ‘fullness’ in terms of fat (rather than milk) has returned!

“He didn’t feed for very long.”

This one is polar opposite to what most people are probably used to. I had a woman in a feeding room make this comment to me. She was also feeding her baby and I thought it was a very strange thing to comment on. Sometimes babies want a meal and sometimes they just want a little sip to drink. Sometimes they want 3 entire courses plus drinks! Once feeding is established the length of feeds can vary, especially dependant on weather and times of day.

“Breastfed babies are clingy and don’t get to bond with their dads.”

Oh man, I hate this one! A big thing i hate about it is it implies the only way you can bond with your baby is by feeding them! Dads can cuddle too. They can change nappies and get baby’s first giggle out. My son and partner have the strongest of bonds and breastfeeding doesn’t take that away from a father.

“Many mothers aren’t capable of breastfeeding.”

This is partly correct in that it is right, some mothers just aren’t physically capable of breastfeeding. Some mothers are also on medication that is crucial to their physical or mental wellbeing and it means that they cannot breastfeed either. But this really isn’t as many as are made out, and unfortunately most the time it is down to a lack of support received.

“You can’t drink alcohol while you breastfeed.”

I’ve had to explain this one more that any of the others! I love the odd glass of wine or cocktail here and there, and it bothers me that I can sometimes be judged for drinking and then feeding. The truth is that alcohol has such a minimal effect on your milk supply.

“Breastfed babies don’t sleep.”

Okay, so my baby is not a great example of this… but there’s this toxic rumour that breastfed babies don’t sleep and it’s not true! Formula fed babies often sleep better as formula is harder to digest and therefore they stay fuller for longer. Even so, it is completely down to luck and depends on what age your baby learns to self soothe.

“I don’t think I would have been able to breastfeed because my milk didn’t come in until over a week.”

The more baby is on the breast, the quicker the milk comes! My milk took 5 or 6 days to come in. Before milk, babies feed on colostrum which is also known as liquid gold. This is all baby will need in that duration as their tummies are only the size of a 50 pence coin!

“Breastfeeding hurts.”

To begin with breastfeeding can hurt if the latch is all wrong. Also, your nipples can sometimes hurt to start off with as they adapt to their new purpose. It’s nothing a bit of nipple cream won’t fix!

“You’ll have to get him on a bottle before he has teeth.”

What’s so scary about teeth and breastfeeding? Ted bites me once every time a new tooth comes through. But it isn’t a hard bite, it’s just he is learning to get comfortable and get a new latch now his mouth is different! If baby bites, firmly tell them no and try not to react.

“Formula and breastmilk are exactly the same.”

Whichever way you choose to feed, science is amazing. We are lucky that formula is there to replicate some of the goodness of breastmilk, but unfortunately formula only contains a fifth of the goodness of breastmilk. Breastmilk serves as medicine as well as nutrition, and contains hormones that cannot be replicated that boost brain development, fight infections and viruses and protect against long term disease into adulthood. And that is amongst many other things!

“Premature babies can’t be breastfed.”

This one makes me especially sad because of course they can!!! Colostrum and milk can be expressed for tube fed babies and although that latch may be a bit harder to establish, with the support of midwives and perseverance you and baby can get there. Breastmilk will adapt to a premature birth and become extra fatty for weight gain and produce extra proteins specifically for brain development.

Surviving Sleep Deprivation

Mum, Sleep

Now that my days of waking every hour of the night are a distant memory, I can talk about them fondly (okay, maybe not) and openly without feeling like I’m ranting or having a moan. Ted now sleeps through the night (HURRAH!) and although that feels like an absolute privilege now, I can remember all too vividly the dark depths of sleep deprivation.

I feel like I need to give you a bit of background to Ted’s sleeping habits to justify writing this blog. I know people have had it much worse than me, I really do… but at points I’ve had it pretty bad, and I hope that qualifies me as a person who can lecture about how you will survive it, because guess what? You really will!

So from birth to 4 months old, Ted was a dream. He’d sleep from 9 until 7 just waking up once between 1 and 2, going straight back down after a quick feed. There was never any need for co-sleeping or any additional aids, because for a newborn he was a perfect sleeper. Apparently our baby that was boast-worthy decided to shatter our dreams and went through his first sleep regression.

The following 5 months were a blur. I mean, I was awake most of the time, so you’d think I’d hold more memories than ever, but the truth is, most nights I was surviving off of 2 or 3 hours sleep. I don’t know what happened and why my angel child suddenly decided to become a devil sleep stealer, but it was incredibly difficult to even summon the energy to eat and drink some days, let alone do anything else. Ted went from waking up once, to waking up every 20 minutes some nights.

When Ted reached 6 months, we moved him into his own room and this helped a little. I refused to do it any sooner, as I’d never want to put Ted at a higher risk of SIDs, and I refused to co-sleep, purely because I was so determined (or stubborn) to get him to sleep in his cot. When I say helped a little, I mean he went from waking up every 20 minutes to every hour. Some nights I’d even get a 2 hour slot before he woke up again! Lucky, lucky me!

When Ted reached 9 months, he just decided to start waking up once again, and then by 10 months when my return to work was looming, he slept through the night, and has done ever since. But how did I survive those sleepless nights?

There’s three things I would recommend more than anything, and three things that kept me going through that time. Firstly, I slept whenever I had the opportunity to. My sleeping patterns must’ve been so messed up and I think I slept more on the sofa than I did my own bed, but if baby is sleeping then try and do the same. Forget about your washing pile, the washing up and tidying. Your own sanity is far more important. Those things can wait. Secondly, make sure you always accept any help. If someone says they will take baby for a few hours so you can kip, then do it. If someone offers to do the hoovering, don’t be scared to say yes. Thirdly, make sure you get out of the house every single day, even if it’s for 10 minutes. I always made sure that I went to the park, went to the local shop, went shopping in town, visited a variety of coffee shops, popped to the farm or to the supermarket to make sure that even on days where I didn’t have any plans that I was still getting out and seeing other adults and getting some fresh air. I think this helps us keep some sort of grasp of reality and prevent us living in a baby bubble.

It’s mad to me now when I think about those ridiculously difficult times as they often feel like a distant memory, but really I was only in the midst of them 5 months ago. I’m very much someone whose entire mood is dependent on how much sleep I’ve had, and I can’t tell you how relieved I am to come out the other side. I don’t panic every night now, worrying I won’t get more than 2 hours sleep over an entire night. I hope those of you dealing with a sleep regression at the moment, or those of you that just have a bad sleeper get some much needed sleep soon!

Working Mum Isolation

Mum, Uncategorized, Working Mum

I thought being a mum was hard work, but being a working mum is bloody hard work!

Let me explain my situation a bit, for those who don’t know me personally. I work in education in a teaching role and term time only, so I get all the holidays off. Ted attends nursery every weekday from 8-8:30 and finishes around 4:30-5:45 depending on when I finish. Daddy plays football on saturdays and that takes up most the day, so that’s mine and Ted’s day.

The word ‘isolation’ is often associated with being a mum- especially a mother on maternity leave. I did have times when I felt isolated when on mat leave, but I fixed that by doing small things, such as making sure I left the house, even if just for a walk, everyday. Finding a routine was my way around that. Isolation is expected when you are a new mum. You are learning to cope and deal with the new stresses that mum life can bring. You are on your own a lot of the time with a little human who can’t converse or entertain. It’s something everyone is told to prepare for by attending classes, meeting other mums and touring coffee shops.

However, I’ve never heard anyone talk about the sort of isolation I’ve felt over the last 6 weeks. I’ve not met one single person whose situation is even similar to mine, and as a mum that is hard and not something I’ve experienced yet. There’s always another mum somewhere who knows how you feel, but not for me this time. It’s almost unheard of for a mum of an under 1 year old to be at work full time with nursery childcare and non-flexible hours. I don’t think anyone really relates to it, even when they try. I know I’m flying solo on this type of working mum journey, and that’s proving to be difficult.

Seeing Ted after a working day is completely wonderful. He really enjoys nursery and his happiness at seeing us each evening is the warm, fuzzy, butterfly-feel you dream of, and I get to experience it every single work day. I don’t get to sit down when I get home. Luckily, Daddy makes dinner while me and Ted play, then we eat dinner and shortly afterwards Ted has a milk feed, bath and then it’s bedtime. As soon as he is dreaming away, I’m putting the washing on, tidying up, putting things away for at least another hour before I get to sit down again. As my working day ends, my mummy chores begin.

Fortunately, I do get the holidays off, and I’m really enjoying my summer with Ted and Rob, as he also works in education and gets time off too. It’s come with its difficulties however. The mums you are friends with have their own routines now to prevent their own new-mummy-isolation, meaning they see this person on this day, and have that class on that day, and they’ve filled up their busy schedules leaving you unintentionally left out when your chance does arise to catch up. They’ve got new friends and you aren’t always ‘needed’ anymore. You get so swamped in all the things you haven’t had time to do at the weekends of a working week that you realise your to-do list is longer than you care to share. You’d also be surprised at the assumption others have that you’ve now got buckets full of money, forgetting the pricey childcare bill you’ve still got to pay for next term.

Being a working mum does not make you any less of a mum. When I’m at work, I’m still a mum. My brain is always on Ted and my drive everyday is him. I still give him my time and attention. I think there’s this sort of assumption that when you’re a working mum you are escaping your child. I’m a working mum because I cannot bare the thought of not having a career. My life doesn’t revolve around my child, it is far greater than that, and something I’m very passionate about is not losing my identity and just being ‘Ted’s mum.’ My wages pay for childcare and then I have a little bit left over, and I’m constantly told that it isn’t worth it to do that, but it’s still more than I would have if I wasn’t at work. It hurts when other mums talk about how they couldn’t possibly leave their babies, because I am constantly full of self-doubt as to whether my decision is the right one. It makes me feel like I’m abandoning my son for my own selfish reasons and everyone else is doing right by spending everyday with their child.

But you know what? It really is the right decision for me. Instead, let’s celebrate that some of us have the choice. It’s been the best thing for my family of three. I’m happier, I’m focused, and although the isolation of being a working mum has hit hard, I amaze myself constantly at how brave I’m being. Gone are the days of playing it safe and staying in my comfort zone, and I’m quite proud of myself for doing this and taking what others see as a risk. Go me!

Baby, Baby, Baby

Mum, Mum of 4, pregnancy

Written by Sabrina Reid

You may have noticed that I took a bit of a break. Given that the break came only three posts into my blogging life you may be forgiven if you concluded that I had laid my pen to rest and allowed this phase to pass. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

My last post was a goodbye to pregnancy and a tribute to my third and final baby. But as most of you know by now I am pregnant! 

Pregnant for the fourth time, pregnant and totally unprepared, a pregnancy unplanned that catapulted me into the depths of despair and so please excuse the unexpected interlude as to put it frankly I just needed time to get my shit together. 

I’ve had the experience of an unplanned pregnancy before. My first 18 years ago was totally unplanned and yet failed to rock my world in the way that this one has. Maybe walking into the unknown that first time round mixed with the naivety of my youthful self made it a little less daunting. Maybe knowing the true realities of parenthood especially with four children is the culprit of the fear that has gripped me for the past several months. It’s probably also the lack of control. 

😂

Since having my eldest I’ve been careful to take tight hold of those metaphorical reigns of life and have tried to guide my journey and life outcomes with care. So what happened? I let my guard down. Longed to feel like myself again following a difficult and testing pregnancy, wanted to feel close to my husband after months of illness and carrying what felt like the biggest baby ever, not to mention those early sleepless nights that new parents endure. And with that I convinced myself that exclusively breastfeeding would offer me guaranteed protection and had a night of unforgettable passion! (Well let’s just describe it like that ) I mean the ridiculousness of that last sentence is enough to make me want to slap myself around the head. I got caught up in the moment and got caught out! 

Feeling normal again after a gruelling 10 months of pregnancy is not to be underestimated. So as time went on and the next few months passed I was in heaven feeling like myself, adapting to new motherhood all over, enjoying life with our new baby,  until a dirty craving for Mc Donald’s came over me in a Sainsbury’s car park and a faintness that I knew could only possibly mean one thing!

And like that at 4 months post-partum my worst nightmare came to life. I was pregnant. Again! 

Each of my pregnancies even my first as unprepared for it as I was filled me with an inner joy and peacefulness that only comes when a lifelong hope is actually fulfilled. I always wanted to be a mother and each pregnancy touched my heart. Not this one! How terrible does that sound? I mean even writing it down fills me with guilt. But it’s the truth! The understanding that this is a blessing, a life and my beautiful child did not kick in until recently. No the initial feeling was one of panic! I’ve never had to deal with more than one baby at a time thanks to my almost decade size gaps between each of my children and whilst leaving it so long to have another offspring has its own downsides it’s what I am used to. 

My lacklustre feelings towards this pregnancy were also driven by the fear that my time with my newborn was going to be ripped from my grasp. I’ve documented before my difficulties with pregnancy. Suffering from Hyperemisis Gravaderium and having spells in and out of hospital with uncontrollable sickness. How was I meant to nurture my baby whilst being so physically sick? How would we cope with two babies at once? Where would we put them? (I mean the logistics of housing 6 people in a 3 bedroom house are not to be taken lightly) what would happen to my own mental health? 

Selfish you may say as mostly that list is all about me. But lets face it. It’s me who had to be pregnant for two years in a row, me who will nurture, childcare, clean, cook and maintain our lives in the practical sense. Whilst my wonderful husband is the biggest means of support in every way and even though this pregnancy filled him instantly with happiness, I know that his words of comfort are only that. Again I’ll need to be physically and mentally strong, to get through pregnancy whilst nurturing a baby and running a family and so I don’t lose my mind. 

I’m just tired. Tired of being strong, unbreakable and looking like superwoman (well at least on my good days) I’m worried about falling apart and the consequences for all if and when that happens. But as my husband pointed out that the fact I’m aware of these things means we can be proactive and put things in place that will make things easier. Making my breakdown less likely to happen. Even sharing my honest feelings about this after months of anxiety and fear is helping me to feel more in control. 

We have arranged childcare for the baby on a part time basis for the early days when the new addition arrives. Just to give me time to adapt, sleep when the baby sleeps and to help with bonding. Our family yet again have been marvellous offering to help with the baby and around the house, checking I’m not feeling too unwell etc and just being a general means of support. 

Whilst the shock for me was next level it was equally interesting to gage the reactions of others once the pregnancy as close as it was to the previous one was announced! I mean I could write a comedy book with the one liners we’ve been on the receiving end of. Going back to work pregnant despite the fact that others have done the same before me also filled me with a mixture of dread and relief. However, now it has all sunk in for us and everyone else the idea of my large family seems more and more like the blessing I know I will forever cherish. I have beautiful children who are thoughtful and kind, vulnerable, inquisitive and who keep me on my toes. Life with them and raising them has been far from a walk in the park but it’s our journey. We are all looking forward to welcoming another precious life into the fold and I’m grateful to be a mother of four. Let’s see where the journey takes us next!

What Being A Mum Means To Me: Joanne Townsend

Mum, What Being A Mum Means To Us

Written by Joanne Townsend

We all have expectations of what motherhood will be like before we have our kids. We have thoughts on everything we would do when it comes to sleep, feeding and even telling the small humans off and we plan to put it all into practice when the baby arrives. However, when your little person arrives in your life, it’s a shock to the system as reality kicks in. Motherhood is a wonderful, amazing, yet exhausting time of your life and it’s not something you can plan or really prepare for. All those rules you might have had before go out the window and all little people are so different with their own needs and opinions. Therefore, you can’t really plan how to parent your child until you get to know them and find out who exactly this amazing bundle of joy is. You also can’t anticipate the love you will feel for this little one when they arrive in the world. It’s crazy how protective you feel over this small human and how you will do anything for them. Even though you have just met them, it feels like they have been around all along. While you obviously change a bit when you have kids, it’s so important to remember you are still you and to use your own experiences and feelings to mother your child. After all, those parts of your personality make you the unique mum that your child will love.

Of course, the role of a mum is hard to get to grips with. Even with my daughter now coming up to 2 years old, I’m still learning my role as a ‘mum’. After all, every day your little one changes so much and there are new challenges to face as a mum.  Therefore, the role of a mum constantly changes and I expect this will continue throughout the whole of her life. For now, I ensure I’m the person my child goes to when they feel sad or happy. I love the fact she will smile over to me if she does something amazing or astonishing and the same goes when something upsets or worries her. I want to be the person who makes her feel safe and reassured. I also feel my role is to encourage her if she does something good and tell her no when she is doing something she shouldn’t. I also try to teach her new things and help her to develop and learn. That way, I hope she will grow to be ambitious and willing to try new things. I also show her how to be nice to others around us. Hopefully she will then will grow to be kind and respectful to everyone.

I love my role as a ‘mum’ and look forward to building that tighter bond as my daughter grows up.

Back to Work

Mum, Working Mum

Written by Carly W

So the anxiety kicked in when it hit January 1st 2019. Not because I was going to work that month but because I knew that I was going to work ‘this year’ and that seemed too close for comfort. I had to book plenty of holidays as ‘milestones’ was whilst on maternity, to throw me off the thought of work. We booked a holiday to Lanzarote in February, trip to Windermere in March and then work in April followed by a trip to Newquay in May. Ever since January 2019, I had a go of the lottery almost every week as I had it in my head that I would win and not have to go back. It all seems a joke now, but literally, hand on my heart, I honestly, thought, I would have done so. I even had a go at a competition to ‘win a house’ (no lie). As you may have guessed, I didn’t win. I was enjoying maternity leave that much I was doing anything I could not to actually think about work. So, our holidays happened and it became closer and closer to ‘D Day’. In my friend group, I was the last mummy to go back to work, so I watched all my friends go back and gave them the advice I couldn’t take myself ‘it will all be fine’.

The night before ‘D Day’..

We had a terrible weekend as my daughter was poorly from her trial day at nursery. She seemed to have caught a bug which left us housebound for the whole weekend. I had lots of plans of making the weekend memorable but nothing comes between a poorly baba and cuddles. The night before ‘D Day’, it was touch and go as to whether my daughter was going to nursery, adding to my worries..

Wondering what will happen? 

Who will look after her when I go to work? 

Will they look after her the way I do? 

What happens if she goes and is sick? 

What happens if she goes to nursery and doesn’t drink milk? 

What happens if they swap her milk accidentally to cows milk (she has a cows milk protein allergy)?

I prepped our bags reluctantly, made sure she had a change of clothes, plenty of milk, nappies, wipes etc. And crossed it all off my list. 

I even had to get a new water bottle and mug for my own work to make me feel better about going. 

Surprisingly, I slept quite well that night. 

‘D DAY’..

The day finally came, Tuesday 23rd May 2019. My first day of work. My daughter was still poorly so my husband decided to delay his work and take her to the doctors first thing. I think that made me feel better, knowing she would be looked after on my first day back. Knowing that I wouldn’t have to wave goodbye walking out of nursery for the first proper time. I think that was generally my biggest fear. I got to work, my colleagues had put up banners for me ‘welcoming me back’ and all my worries disappeared when I sat back on my old desk chair. Within minutes, it seemed like I never left and got back into the swing of things dealing with my 1600 emails in my inbox. Everyone asking questions about my daughter; how old she is, is she good, does she sleep etc.. made me think of her and eagerly awaiting home time to have lots of mummy snuggles. 

Nursery 

Daddy took her to the doctors and they said her illness was practically due to teething. So, around 11.30am, we made a decision to let her go to Nursery for her first day. My husband took her to Nursery and made sure to write them a note explaining of her illness and lack of feeding. He said that was really hard and had to hold back the tears as he walked away. Anyway, our Nursery was amazing and they have an app that updates us after nappy changes, feeds and sends us little pictures throughout the day. I think I spent my whole first day at work checking the app for updates. I was so excited to finish work to pick her up. I raced to the Nursery to find out that she had a great day and settled in really well, despite being unwell. That was the most memorable part of my day and we had lots of snuggles when we got home.  

Reflection..

If I could go back and tell myself a few things about my first day at work, I would tell myself this. 

It’s all going to be absolutely fine. Work is great when you get there, it’s good to have adult conversations and there is no better feeling in the world than picking your daughter up from nursery. Also, work is the only time you get a hot cup of tea!!!!!!!!!!!!! I would tell myself that Nursery is going to be amazing; seeing all the different types of food she’s ate, developing her tastebuds, letting her play with other children and different toys. Yes, she is going to catch bugs but that is just human nature. It is developing her immune system. I am sure that lots of people have told me all of this before, but I realised that you don’t take it on board until the time actually comes. I am now so excited to see her grow and develop at nursery and looking forward to getting back into a new routine. I can now officially say, I am a working mum. And I love my weekends even more.