If you were my friend…

If you were my friend I would ask how you were feeling, rather than slam you with insults about your lack of coping.

If you were my friend I would offer a hug or some company, not remind you over and over how worthless you are.

If you were my friend I would bring you flowers, a magazine or a bar of chocolate to pick you up, not stare at the needy person in the mirror making judgments.

If you were my friend I would text you a positive message to say I had your back, not trawl through social media comparing your life to those ‘doing better’.

If you were my friend I would check in on you to see how you were at that moment, if you needed some help with your housework, your washing or fancied a meal being cooked for you. I wouldn’t insist you weren’t doing enough and shouldn’t be so lazy.

If you were my friend I would make sure you knew you were supported, whatever hour of the day, not isolate you further and tell you not to harass others.

If you were my friend I would remind you how beautiful you were, whenever you doubted it, not pick out more imperfections.

If you were my friend I would smile at you, cry with you, share a joke with you. I wouldn’t fill your head with unkind thoughts or hurt you whenever I caught sight of you.

If you were my friend I would remind you that it’s ok to not feel ok, not keep telling you how you are always failing yourself and your family.

If you were my friend I would encourage you to talk, to seek help, to get space. I wouldn’t insist you bottle things up so you ‘appeared’ to have it all together.

If you were my friend I would say ‘get a takeaway if cooking feels too much today’. I wouldn’t remind you of how bad you looked already and that those extra calories will do nothing for your already overweight body.

If you were my friend I would always say look after yourself, because you are import too.

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Baby Girl

To the lovely Miss Norah Rae, my fierce little nudest! ūüėā

Happy birthday little one! Tomorrow you will be 2! Actually 2, not ‘nearly two’ (like you’ve been telling everyone for months) anymore!! 

It’s been such an amazing two years and I couldn’t be more grateful that you chose to join our family! I spent years hoping and praying for another child to love, but as time slowly passed, I convinced myself you would never come. But then you did! You planted yourself well and truly in the depths of my heart and as you steadily grew you filled me with hope and confidence. I finally felt that I could get things right and be the best Mummy to 3 wonderful children.

Now two whole years have passed since we started that journey together and I can barely put into words all the things you have taught us in this time: How much joy you have brought to our home, how many old wounds you have helped start to heal. How your sunny personality has helped each of us strive to be the best parent/ sibling we can be for you and each other. You are the most beautiful little girl I know, because you are fearless, confident, bold, strong, willful and wild! You have redefined beauty as we used to know it and let everyone you meet know how unique you are.

We’ve just spent a long summer with your brother’s whilst they are off school and I’ve loved seeing you asserting yourself to be an equal member of the sibling tribe. You have carved yourself a special place in our lives and will let anyone and everyone know of your presence! No one takes you prisoner! 

When the boys are at school it’s just the two of us. It’s such a precious time for me as I get to learn all about you and watch you grow. I see what brings you happiness and what makes you sad or frustrated. I witness the hilarity of your personality and the fierce independence you have. I love our little chats and how every minute of the day is full of conversation and questions as you eagaly learn how this strange old world works. I love hearing your voice and the way it forms new words and recalls phrases. Just the other day, for example,when I asked you to get in the bath just as you had put on the marigolds to ‘help’ wash up and you said “you kidding me?” I couldn’t help but laugh! When you suddenly stop feeding at night so you can put your hands together and say “hubba hubba” (thanks Cheaper by the Dozen) or when I think you are fast asleep, but then you peek through the bars on your bed and say “yoohoo” whilst waving your tiny finger I can’t help but smile! What a funny girl you are!

Having older brothers you have always looked up to them with a desire to do the same as they are doing! You were walking before your first birthday, you were climbing even earlier! You try to play in the same way, throw and catch a ball just like they do, attempt to ride a 2 wheeled bike even if you can’t reach the pedals! You want to swim in the same way they can, jump into water without help and climb trees right up to the top! And there’s no getting in the way of that confidence and that fiery determination! You know exactly what you are capable of and your fierce spirit will often get you there too! What amazing character traits to have ūüėÄ

You are a big lover of people and social places (despite both your parents struggling in these situations)! You adore babies and taking care of others. You try so hard to look after those around you and include others in your world. Your kindness humbles me.

There are so many memories we have created together over the last 2 years and even the most trying times have been a blessing in this journey as your Mummy. I look forward to all the new ones we will make this year and being there everyday to watch what you get up to and conquer next!

Thank you so much for being you, for bringing all your love and happiness to our little home and making each day a true blessing.

All my love for always,

Mummy Xx

Why I let my children take days off school!

Son #2 will not be attending school tomorrow. Is he ill? No! Does he feel under the weather? No! In fact his physical health is in tip top condition at the moment! *she touches wood and keeps fingers crossed throughout her time blogging* Put simply, I am giving my child a ‘Well Being Day’ tomorrow.

Well Being Day/ Mental Health Day/ Time off just means a day off school to be yourself, recharge, relax and generally stop without being ill! Ever since my children have started full time school I have given them Well Being days whenever I think they need them. Yes this means they are yet to receive 100% attendance, but quite frankly this is not of any importance to me or my family! What is important is that they are feeling happy, confident and are able to put their best self into each situation.

From the moment children start school (age 4) they are given approximately 190 days of schooling each year until the age of 18! That’s about 2,660 teaching days! With each school day lasting around 6 hours they get a total of 15, 960 hours worth of education before they get to leave…I think! Maths was never my strong point!! Basically it’s a heck of a lot!

Over the years my boys have had to take time off for sickness bugs, ear infections, chicken pox, temperatures, etc and have been nursed back to health at home with over the counter medication and lots of TLC. These times have not been fun or relaxing or in anyway out of choice! However, at certain times since starting school my boys have also had days off for their Well being; for their emotional, psychological, health and welfare. This may sound completely new agey to you, but I am a firm believer that in order to be our best and perform to our best we must give rest to the body, mind and soul. That is to take time to stop when things are feeling too much, to spend time doing the things we love without being rushed or given time limits and to be in close proximity to those that we love.

My eldest needs more of these types of days at home than my second (at the moment). Over time I have noticed that prolonged shouting, restlessness, numerous night wakings, flared temper and increased negative first responses are indicators that he has reached his limit and needs to take time out of the school environment. For my second child it is tearfulness, severe anger and refusing to comply with reasonable requests that suggest he is in need of some relaxation.

I’m sure some of you will be thinking ‘just chill out after school’, ‘do some yoga’, ‘have you tried mindfulness’, etc and believe me we have…tried it all! But as I am sure you readers are aware by now my children are intense. They are full on. They live life at 100mph, giving 100% in all that they do (be it an activity they love or an argument about eating their dinner)! So despite keeping as many evenings free after school for child initiated play, park trips, yoga, mindfullness, story reading, music appreciating, etc, etc, sometimes they have given all they can and are running on empty. And this my friends is when they will get time off school.

For those of you who worry about child attainment and school progress (and all the other stressy things that I really don’t put much thought into ūüėČ ) I can assure you that a couple of days off (out of the whole year) to chill out and rest does NOT have a negative impact on their school work and academic achievements. In fact, I would be so bold as to say my children do better at school because of their Well Being days!! Because they are given time to refresh their minds and refuel their souls and because they are listened to and allowed to express their selves (even their worst traits) safely at home, they are able to fully apply themselves within school in the knowledge that they are loved and respected whatever ‘results’ they bring home. Thus taking away some of the stress school can put on them and allowing them to see the bigger picture: that there is more to life than attendance and attainment.

The recent school reports sent home were accompanied by a letter explaining how the demands placed on children have increased recently with the new curriculum and to be mindful that the children’s attainment is now being assessed at an even higher level than ever before! Teachers are aware of the increased pressure and stress children are under. Schools are being inundated with mental health training and courses in anticipation of the impact all this pressure has on children and yet I still hear parents giving their children short shrift for ‘poor results’ or ‘low attainment’ or just berating them to ‘keep up the hard work or else you won’t be top table anymore’!! Seriously! Maybe they need a Mental Health Day!!

I am pleased to say that (despite my children taking days off even when they aren’t ill), the boys are both working at a greater depth (ie exceeding expectations) in every subject! ¬†And more importantly their attitude to learning is rated ‘Very Good’, which is the highest band given! And…furthermore, neither of the boys know this!!! Of course they know how proud we are of them and how hard they try. They know that their teachers wrote very positive things about them and how they learn, but they are not aware of the marks they got or how they fare nationally, etc, because this is not of importance in my opinion. Should next year bring reports with ‘lower levels’ or every year from now on show ‘no progress made’ I do not want my children to think that what they ‘achieve’ in a school report reflects the complete picture (because it doesn’t). I do not want them thinking they have failed¬†in anyway just because their abilities do not match the marking criteria set out by an elitist government. For as long as possible I want school to be a place where my children go to acquire new skills, have fun with their friends and experience new opportunities. I want them to feel confident, be enthusiastic and have a desire to find out more. So for now, when my children show me that they are feeling less than enthusiastic, that their confidence is waning and their happiness is compromised I will give them a day off school even when they aren’t ill!

The Cruel Hunter

Today I heard you whisper, as gentle as the breeze. Your voice was soft , it called to me, you tricked me with your ease. I pricked my ears to listen, but your words were harsh and mean. I wish I could tune in to someone else, hear words that weren’t quite so obscene:

“You idiot, You worthless woman, You rubbish Mum and lover. You’re pathetic, You are useless, You are always far too lazy. You sleep too much, You don’t care enough. You could hardly be called a Christian. You’re far too harsh, You’re an embarrassment. No one takes you seriously. Your house is messy. You dress like shit and no amount of make up will make you look any better…”

Later you came as thunder, A sudden crack, so loud. You startled me, yet I knew you’d come, you rarely aren’t around. ¬†The bellow from your calling, the judgement of your words, reminded me I’m nothing, I’m among the worse bastards:

“You should be much better than this. You had years of practice. You swear too much, your children don’t respect you. You’re a waste of space. You will always be fat. You have no self control. You are a bad friend, a pathetic excuse for a parent. You do nothing worthwhile…”

You returned to me a dragon, pressed up against my ear. Your breath was hot, your fire it burned. You roared with mighty fear. Your shriek became my voice too, I cried out from the scorching flames. My skin was hot, the sweat poured down, you filled my head with blame:

“It’s your fault they don’t sleep, they don’t feel safe with you. Your breast milk is full of crap and can’t nourish them long enough. If you tried harder, you might be able to sustain a friendship. You are lucky he is still with you, what with the lack of effort you put in. You take too much, never give. You make others feel bad. Stop asking for help, you should be able to do this already…”

You filled me with your flood water. I spluttered as I choked. The water leaked out from my eyes at the evil words you spoke. You took command and dragged me under, No safe place to hold on to. You held me captive at every stroke, with every fear I knew:

“You don’t deserve them, You should give them a better life. Pass them on to someone else. If you truly loved them you would let them go. The car isn’t being driven safely. You will all die. Someone will get run over. This bus is going to crash. You aren’t safe in this house. The food you are serving will make them ill. It’s not just a virus. He doesn’t love you…”

Today you reached crescendo, a volcano gathering force. You erupted in my veins, my heart. My lungs burnt as you continued your course:

“You’re not wanted. They aren’t interested. You are boring and immature. Your family are sick of you. Your ideas are useless. Why are you still here? No one would miss you. People don’t love you, they just put up with you. You should be punished. and hurt.You’re out of control. You won’t ever be part of the group. The church community pity you. It’s a real effort to be in your company…”

When you called today I heard the buzz, before I felt your sting. A swarm of bees were sent from you to pierce and wound my skin. You took pleasure in my discomfort, continued to muster your power. The duration of your torture, persistent every hour.

“Don’t talk in public, no one listens. Your singing voice is weak. They are all watching you and judging you. Their smiles are pitying and forced. You will never be good enough whatever you do. You have to prove yourself to them. Respect is earned, but you won’t get there. Stop moaning. Stop wanting more. You are greedy and jealous and needy…”

Tonight you built yourself a wall, between my babe and me. You made it high and impassable, only you could release the key. ¬†You tried to steal my love for her and told me they didn’t care. You took my trust and stripped my faith. Frozen and ensnared.

“She needs more than you. Put her down and let her cry. You try too hard. Your milk isn’t filling enough so stop feeding her. You want sleep, but you keep her in your bed. The boys have given up on you. You are not available to them anymore. When they need you at night you don’t react in the way they require. You are quick to anger. It’s your fault. He only stays for the children. He resents you. He didn’t want children and look what you did. You’ve taken away his chances of the life he wanted…”

In the early morning you appeared again. You sat beside my bed. Your breath on my cheek roused me from sleep. Your dark words filled my head. Relentless you were in your evil, your words continued to rage. A steady course of damage.

“You don’t deserve it. This life would be better elsewhere. Show more gratitude. Help more. Give more. Make something, do something, clean something, clear something. Be useful to others. Just do more. Just do better. You are not enough. You always fall short. You waste time. You should not be allowed to wake up. Worthless, unclean, broken…”

You held my heart in a vice today. It pinched and stung with each beat. But your voice was only a whisper, so soft, so quiet, quite still. Today I could keep a sense of calm so no one would know of this ill.

Ethan at 8!

Dear Ethan,

Tomorrow is your Birthday! This year you will be 8! It seems like such a grown up age and some days I catch glimpses of the young man you are becoming; the determined, caring, confident yet tender hearted soul, but mostly I still see my lovely little boy still figuring out what this crazy world is all about!

It is both exciting and a little scary watching you grow older! The mixed emotions of enjoying your developing personality, the more intellectual conversations we can share, the beauty of your face evolving each day. Yet I also slightly mourn the little boy you’ve been for so long! That fierce, persistent and intense character; the cheeky, happy-go-lucky boy who loves playing pirates and farmers,etc; my extroverted baby with the sunny smile and infections giggle. I know these parts of you haven’t gone completely and that you will always have a fire in your soul, so I will keep watching out for those glimpses of my little boy as you transition into a big boy!

I’m currently watching you at your swimming lesson, moving through the water as if you were born in it. Its hard to believe you only started lessons a few months back, confident in the water, but unsure of any strokes! Now you can’t get enough of learning new skills and progressing through the stages! Though that could be to do with the certificates you get too!! I’m so in awe of all your capabilities and the way you will always try your best at whatever task you are faced with, (well apart from if a drawing isn’t going the way you had hoped!). 

You have the perseverance and determination to achieve whatever you set your mind to. Football is your other passion at the moment. From last year, when your focus was on creating the perfect game so it looked like you understood the rules, to this year when you are more confident of yourself and are happy to join in with the big lads and have a good time, whatever the final score.

And it’s not just the fun and games you try hard at. You are already becoming a little world changer. From giving the spare change jar (saved over a few months for an exciting day out) to Christian Aid, because you felt their recipients were more in need of the money than yourself, to waking up one morning with a burning desire to just ‘change things’ in the world, because poverty and hunger ‘shouldn’t be happening’. So now there are little postcards and bookmarks you have made to sell and spare change being collected for another charity. It humbles me that you are so aware of others and your‚Äč desire to support people isn’t just saved for those you know. How proud am I to be able to call you: this kind, considerate, loving and justice seeking boy, my own son!? (Immensely, just in case you hadn’t realised!)

This year you have let even more people catch a glimpse of the real you. Your confidence has grown at school and you have become close with a little group of friends, though you still enjoy playing with anyone and everyone or whoever has the best game going! You always have been incredibly social! I love watching you spending time with your buddies, having a good giggle and rushing off at the school gate, eager to start another day of learning! It’s been a long journey to get you here, but I knew you would love it once you felt settled and safe.

It really has been another brilliant year. I am so proud of you and everything that you stand for. You have taught me so much year on year and continue to show each and every one of us just how much can be achieved through love, compassion and a hulk like ferocity. 

See you in the morning precious one!

With all the love in my heart made for you,

Mummy Xx

Birthday Eve

Dear Lucas,

Tomorrow you turn 6! What a big boy! Every year on this night I think back to the time you were born. It is still one of the proudest and most special times of my life: That moment I held your tiny (albeit chunky) body in my arms after 36 weeks of tucking you under my heart. I was instantly filled with joy and love and contentment. My heart bursting with such a primal connection that I felt a depth of love with every fibre of my soul. That feeling never fades.

 I wanted to protect you and guide you and never let you go. The hormonal tigress controlling my love for you.Over the past six years I’ve learnt that part of loving you is to allow you to guide me, to put away my claws of protection and let your spirit grow separate from my heart. And you really have grown into the most precious little man.

Yesterday, whilst you were at school I spent some time looking through your photo album, back at all the pictures of you growing up to where you are now. I was once again reminded of the journey we’ve travelled together and all the fun times we’ve shared. It was like all the evidence that proved that the once small, sweet baby is now this beautiful, strong, intelligent and fierce big boy (who is still just as sweet!And very cheeky!).

After looking at your pictures it got me thinking about other highlights from your little life and how much you have grown and accomplished in just 6 years! Not just the obvious: walking, talking, climbing,etc, but the real changes: the deepening of knowledge, the acquisition of new skills, the growth of conscience and confidence. All the bits that make you you, I guess! This past year for example you wrote and read out a prayer for your sister at her Dedication, the line ‘I love her 80,000’ being my absolute favourite! You went from being silent in class to reading aloud to the whole infant school and their parents at the end of term service. You learnt to swim independently and were invested into Beavers. You have shown how protective you are in your care for your sister, how you seek justice and demand fairness for all. You show strength in your play and deep thought in your hobbies. You are inquisitive and sensitive, thoughtful and kind. Your intelligence astounds me and your love for your family humbles me. You truly are a wonderful boy.

You have been looking forward to your birthday for weeks now and I really hope tomorrow is as exciting as you have hoped it will be. I hope the year ahead is full of adventure and wonder and more opportunities for you. And I hope you always know just how loved you are.

Sleep well my almost six year old. See you in the morning.

All my love,

Mummy Xx

Connection lost in Space

There seems to be a new craze sweeping town…Hygge! Have you heard of it? Are you a convert? Are you desperately trying to change your lifestyle to become more Hyggeligt?!

Apologies to those of you who thought this might be a post about the strength of Wifi signal on a trip to Mars, because it isn’t ! This is a post about the importance of making connections with others, deepening relationships and how the physical space in which to do this is all relative to who we are with and what we are doing!

I love the concept of Hygge-the coziness of being with friends and family, the intimate moments of sharing a meal, the indulgent nature of hunkering down under a duvet and reading a book or watching a movie in semi darkness. Apparently this is all Hygge stuff! It took me a while to realise, but I think the appeal with this concept is in the simplicity of the ‘Hygge moments’. The attitude of appreciation for the most minimalist moments, creating a sense of calm and happiness for those taking part. What’s not to like?!

I also woke up to the notion that I like simple. That I like simplicity and minimal and cosy and small! That  I truly enjoy having people over to drink coffee with, eat cakes with, share meals with in our tiny house. That rather than attending great get-togethers and mass catch ups (where if I’m totally honest I feel completely invisible) I like the quiet moments when we are all reading a book (together or alone, but in the same room) or when friends watch a movie together in a home rather than at the cinema, or we just all chat together, openly about things. I feel most at ease when I am wearing my pjs, snuggled on the sofa, rather than dressed up to nines, yelling over loud music on a night out. I absolutely LOVE doing jigsaw puzzles, (even if they do get trashed by spilt drinks before I’ve had the chance to finish them, thanks to overzealous children and only one table serving multiple purposes)! It’s probably the country girl in me still governing my lifestyle despite now living in a busy urban jungle as opposed to the small, cold cottages in the middle of nowhere I grew up in! Or the fact that I still love to read the Milly Molly Mandy stories and get lost in the simplicity of natural childhood. I guess that’s who I am though…simple! Simple just makes sense to me. Doing simple ‘Hygge’ things feels natural.

A while back I came across the book ‘Simplicity Parenting’ by Kim John Payne and couldn’t read it fast enough. As I read each page I found myself relaxing more and more in my own mind as I found myself agreeing with so much of what was written: how we all are actually simple creatures, yet continuously fill our lives, houses, schedules with more and more stuff in the endless search of something we feel we lack. However, when we strip it all back, we find that real happiness and fullfillment comes, in fact, not from the latest Apple product or most liked selfie on Instagram, but from our relationships with others, those moments of sharing and laughing. It comes from connection!  In essence real happiness is basically doing Hygge! (Oh yeah, those Danes are said to be the happiest in the world after all and Hygge is their brainchild!)

With this ‘simple=happy’ approach in mind I went through my house and deposed of bags and bags of stuff. All the bits that were making life less simple and taking up space (both physical and mental).  I got rid of toys and clothes, books and dvds, etc and as I chose each item to remove I felt lighter, freer, more relaxed. It is so easy to fill all the space we have in our homes, but what are we filling all that space with? What really is essential to you and your family?

A few (hundred) months later and I’m feeling the need for another ruthless sort through, another chance to strip it all back. I know we own way too many books, for example. Am I really going to read every single Jodi Picoult again (er no! There were some I didn’t even enjoy if you can believe that). We own far too many DVDs (each shelf is double stacked and I don’t even know what’s in the back rows, seeing as I haven’t looked at them in the 2 years we’ve lived here!) The kids own FAR too many toys (The under bed storage is full to bursting, yet I can’t remember the last time any of the toys in there were actually used. And how much more exciting is it to have a space to hide in under your bed?!) And as for crockery (how many people are we expecting will come round at once, seeing as we hardly ever invite one person over, let alone the entire local community)!

I will say though, that the one thing we are good at keeping simplistic is our wardrobes. I for one see clothes merely as ‘decency protectors’. If they ensure I am not naked in public then I will have them. I do not go for a particular style or brand. I simply own enough clothes to ensure I am dressed each day and don’t have to be doing a wash load every day if I can help it (baby wipes are a wonderous interim)! The same goes for the kids. They have their school uniform (that they have to wear) and then a few outfits that they can wear when they are not at school. The boys own one chest of drawers between then, consisting of 6 drawers in total and if something doesn’t fit in their drawer, then they don’t get to keep it! Pretty harsh to some, pretty practical to others! I mean, even if you own 20 t-shirts and 15 pairs of trousers, at the end of the day you’ve only got one body. You can only wear so much at once anyway, so why own so much in the first place!? Keep it simple, I say!

Owning so much and more than we need seems to be a cultural indicator of wealth and achievement, and funnily enough those that are most drawn to Hygge, so far have been the middle class, apparently. It seems that the people that own the most: The biggest houses, The latest technology, The most current fashion are actually yearning for the simple pleasures and the non-uniform aspects of life. It fascinates me that the term Hygge has its origins in Wellbeing too, when all of this ‘new fad’ is about creating happiness, but more on that another time!

Another reason I am drawn to the practice of Hygge and the simplicity of life (despite being far from middle class) is that it allows me to feel my home is an acceptable place to bring up a family. That having a small home can actually be beneficial for us, not just a stop gap before something bigger can be obtained! It all comes down to one simple word… ‘space’! When people Hygge they try to emulate intimacy, closeness, a bond. Moments are more Hygge like (hyggeligt) when there is not too much empty space surrounding that moment, person or people. Which makes me think that most of what we do as a family is Hygge! That living in such close proximity is in fact enhancing our relationships, deepening our connections and relaxing our minds…although getting rid of more stuff would make this even more likely…and perhaps making us happier beings too!

I mean take the following examples and if they don’t scream ‘happiness and connection’ at you, then I don’t know what will!! ūüėČ Each day we negotiate who is in most need of the loo, as we only  have one and at times 4 people will have a call of nature at the same time! Every morning we work our way around each other as we get our breakfast, lay the table, put on our shoes. It is like a piece of perfected choreography that only our family knows. When it’s bathtime for the kids and one adult may be doing the washing, whilst the other brushes teeth or dries them, you need to be aware of who is doing what and where. Which part of your body fits into what part of the room, as it is only about 3ft by 4ft! Is there room for you to be standing to wash the baby or is that going to use the same space required by child number two standing on the step spitting out his toothpaste? Similarly when using the table, that doubles as a work station, a cooking surface, a craft mat, a jigsaw area, a clean washing sorter; how can you use that space at the same time? What do we need to move, change, bring out, put away in order for it to be used for a different purpose, etc. The list goes on, but in all this we are becoming more aware of the needs of others. We are being mindful of each moment and how to fill it, (will getting out all the painting things at 5.25pm be the best idea, when dinner is to be served at 5.30pm in the same space, for example ). The children are learning how to create games and organise their belongings in and around others. Don’t get me wrong, our home isn’t one of constant calm and comfort, far from it in fact when the space isn’t organised; overwhelming at times when cupboards are emptied and rooms are littered with things, but we have enough space and on the whole we are happy.

If we look positively at what we do have and not yearn for what we lack, our comfort and contentment increase. I would be lying if I said I am able to constantly sustain this mindset and walk around in some sort of nirvana state, but I would like to think that when I pause and take the time to remember what is important to me; my children, my partner, my friends, our relationships; I am able to relax and accept that simple living is what others actually strive for. That in having a small living space we are often able to Hygge without even realising, and seeing as the Danish say that it is not just a moment, but more of an attitude or lifestyle, our home must be completely on point and even one to be sort after! Well that’s what I’m going to tell myself next time I can feel my blood pressure rising as I look into the boys bedroom and can’t see the floor for the amount of toys, books and teddies or when I’m suffering severe back ache as a result of hanging out of our shared bed each night! Small equals simple, simple equals happy! Do you agree?

When you’re weary, feeling small…Post about it!

Being a mum is the best and most rewarding job in the world To be honest being a mum can be proper crap at times! I’m sorry if you are offended by my honesty and brash remark, but right now I think it’s time we were all a little¬†more open about this role in life and how some moments/days/weeks can pretty much put you off children for life!

When was the last time you had a bad day? In fact do you even have bad days or is it just me? The last time I checked (stalked you on Facebook) you were sunning yourself in the garden/ drinking tea whilst the kids played together peacefully/ spending a day by yourself getting pampered/ snuggling up together with your partner and a take away! Is it just me that spends some days screaming at my children in frustration, crying with exhaustion and being less than gentle in my attitude towards the kids?

My Facebook feed is full of photos and articles: pictures of families enjoying a day out together, the weather perfect the smiles full; ¬†A letter written to their ‘wonderful child’ who has accomplished so much already in their short life and will probably graduate from Oxbridge at age 7; The precious features of a newborn captured during an extortionately priced photoshoot: tiny hands clasped, a perfectly formed foot encased in their parents loving hand; )pictures that you will end up buying all of or you will be deemed as the worst mother for ‘preferring’ certain photos of your child over others); Articles on the freedom of being a Stay at Home mother and all the wild adventures and home baking that happens everyday; Selfies of friends trying out new make up, sharing their latest hair cut, etc and photos of my younger sister half naked and flexing her glutes! Do you see where I’m going here?¬†I am fully aware that social media is a minefield of ‘perfection’ and that one should only take it with a pinch of salt. I also know that I could quite easily delete these apps and hide away from it all, but what if real life appears to be very much like this too…just not for you and your ‘imperfect’ moments? Am I alone in thinking this? Thinking like I must be the world’s worst Mum¬†because some days are just so far from this idyllic picture and to be honest some days are awful! I certainly feel like I’m the only one out of my friends that has a good moan, the one that says ‘actually it hasn’t been a good day’ or ‘ my weekend was pretty pants to be fair’.

On the whole I consider myself to be a pretty positive person. I count my blessings each day and feel incredibly blessed to be the Mother of 3 healthy children, who I get to serve each and every day. However, I also consider myself to be honest and at times I know that Motherhood can be both ugly and raw. It comes with big emotions that we aren’t sure how to control. It comes with a million reference books in the library, but none of them about your particular child, their high needs, their very limited sleep pattern, their lack of predictability. Where are these posts? Where are mum’s posting pictures of themselves loosing it, crying after a painful feed, staring without seeing from behind sleep deprived eyes? We can’t have it all. I know that! We all do.

Life isn’t one long festival of highs, vibrant colours and giddy music. Especially the life of a mum. We need to be more honest.We need to be open and allow ourselves to be vulnerable, let others see it’s not a walk in the park, despite doing ‘ nothing’ all day!! ūüėČ We need to reach out and admit out failings: yes we shouted this morning, yes we stooped low enough to smack a bottom when we were at our wits end, yes we threw an equally terrific tantrum after a 20 minute battle with our kids to get them to pick up just one toy off their bedroom floor so at least the door could be opened, etc, etc. We need to hear that other mums have lost it too. That other mums, especially full time mum’s don’t always enjoy each day, cry when their baby has woken up from a micro nap yet again even though you gave them an extra feed and rocked them until your arms had pins and needles, that you too have thrown your own toys out the pram on occasion and still managed¬†to get out the door on time for a school run, pretending yet again that the morning was just utterly wonderful and you couldn’t be more grateful for your life right now…not! Where are you sisters?! Where is that solidarity and support without judgement? Where is that cup of tea shared amid tears and that friendly smile that suggests you’ve been there too and you too have days where you would rather run away? Like seriously, has anyone else ever wondered how you ‘quit’ your job as a mum?!

I totally get the want to celebrate the highs of Mummyhood. I too share far too many photos of the good times (so I can remember them during the down days) and post about the funny little things that have happened in my day, even if nobody else is interested! I do love seeing where people have gone on their holiday and what their baby can do now, and how my sister’s butt reflects the light in her latest photo-shoot, (love you really Ruth) etc, but I would love to see more honest posts too: A little sentence about the stand off you had with your child today, a picture of the total chaos your house is in however much you pick up after everybody, a hashtag describing your mood right now, a picture of your post baby body with none of the baby weight shifted despite the ‘baby’ being almost school age now, etc! Not to be mocked by others, or judged or pitied, but a voice of realism in amongst the tidal wave of ‘perfection’¬†and a way to better understand each other at our most vulnerable. It would be a way to still feel love and support when we feel less than deserving, to still hold out hope for a better day/ a stronger relationship with our child/ a happier bedtime. We need to be united in our struggles not just the celebrations and know that we are not alone.

I’ll start you off! ¬†Here is a picture I took when it wasn’t all rosy. It felt completely unnatural to take a selfie during one of the worst parts of my day and a little bit foolish if I’m honest, but I know that if I want other people to be more open and honest I need to show them my vulnerable side too, so here goes:

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A Rough Day ūüė¶

And this is the story behind it:

It was almost time to go pick the boys up from school and I was feeling exhausted after another week of broken nights and no day time naps. I felt touched out and generally crappy all over. I was also really dreading spending the afternoon with the boys seeing as whenever I was with them lately I was called ‘stupid’ or told to ‘shut up’ or punched/kicked as they flexed their muscles of independence and importance. I felt as though Carl and I had become more like housemates than partners and felt unloved, unappreciated and unimportant. Yes that sounds incredibly dramatic and like my eldest son I feel emotions on the extreme, rather than somewhere in the middle, but my fierce inner strength felt weak and weary this day, because guess what? It ain’t always a walk in the park!

And there you have it! As simple as that ( ūüėČ )!

But before I sign off…How was your day?!

*Just to say I feel very mixed about posting this. It is not a post about being down on children or Motherhood and it certainly doesn’t come as easily as writing about the fun stuff. I do worry that by saying these things I will hear the ‘but you wanted children’ argument and ‘what about those that can’t have children’ camp so I apologize in advance if I appear ungrateful or insensitive. This was not my aim and I can assure you my children are deeply loved and appreciated (when they’re not making me tear my hair out ūüėČ )!*

Now that you have 3…

In some ways these last 13 weeks have flown by, but in other ways it has been a slow few of months! We are all still adjusting to our new roles, both in the home and elsewhere, so some days have gone well and some have been…well pretty horrendous if I’m completely honest ūüė¶
Over these first 3 months there have been incredible highs (a new life has just blessed your family) and really tough lows (you are now in charge of 3 younglings). Some days fly by far too fast, whereas others seem endless and without much hope.
Anyway if you ever wondered what it is like ‘now that chaos is the norm’, here is a list of what to expect :

13 things that you will notice during the first 3 months and (some) ideas on how to survive the tough ones:

1. Breastfeeding will literally take up most of your time.
From the early days when you need to feed every few minutes to fill those tiny tums, to those epic feeds that seem to last for hours. Then once you feel you have just about reached some sort of rhythm the cluster feeding starts and you will be feeding (on and off) all day and all night again! *yawn* Forget about your own needs now! Loo trips become almost scheduled and eating becomes a quick raid of the fridge, usually whilst your small one is still attached to your breast!
And in those few moments when you aren’t feeding you will be thinking about feeding: Worrying you have too much milk and will end up engorged or with mastitis, quickly followed by worrying that you don’t have enough milk and you are starving your poor baby! Sometimes you will be so fed up of worrying you will start to wonder if you should just jack it in altogether. Phew! Exhausted much?!

But…the good news is…you can survive it! There is a way to get through this endless cycle of continuous feeding and even enjoy it (at times, let’s not get ahead of ourselves)! The trick with this one is to stay hydrated and nourished! I mean everything feels better on a full belly or with a cuppa, don’t you think? So if there are people about ask for water/snacks whilst feeding or if you are on your own grab some bits before you start a feed. If you are heading out try to carry a bottle of water in your bag and maybe a piece of fruit too if you remember; so that when you’re caught off guard and have to give a quick feed whilst on the bus or on the local park bench (just to list a couple of the random places I’ve ended up feeding), you don’t end up gagging for a drink too! Just don’t forget to use/remove that little satsuma before it turns into green mush at the bottom of your bag, ready to cover your hand when you next rummage!
As for the ‘worrying about everything’ part-don’t!! Obviously easier said than done and to be honest something I am still working on. However, looking back I realise the worries are usually linked to two things in particular. 1) lack of sleep and 2) a growth spurt/developmental leap. If you can put things in place to help with #1 (see point 3 below) I promise you things will quickly start to look brighter. There is nothing like a warped sense of self and your thoughts when you are completely exhausted. As for #2 your baby is continuously growing and changing, but there are particular times over the first year (or so) of their lives that will be particularly eventful. These have often been labelled ‘The Wonder Weeks’ and will most probably leave both of you exhausted, tearful, hungry and just not yourself! So if you feel you want to prepare yourself, have a look on the tinterweb, buy the book or download the app about these stages of development. Or if you aren’t one for scaring yourself (!), whilst having a moment of worry or self doubt tell yourself it is not forever, ‘everything is transitory’. You will soon notice (about 3-5 days later) that your little one is through the worst and the normal feeding patterns will pick up again…she says hoping that one day soon her little one will last longer than an hour between feeds at night!

 

2. Your baby will catch at least one cold…maybe more if you’re really lucky! And if all the stars align, all 3 children (&your partner) might get ill…over a 2 week period… so you are literally climbing the walls juggling feeding, medicine administration, school runs, cooking, cleaning, entertainment and cuddles!!

So now you’ve just about settled yourself into thinking these cluster feeds, continual latching and unlatching, wakeful nights and clingy days are all part of a growth spurt and won’t last forever, your little one develops their very first cold and your life is turned upside down once again. They cough, they splutter. They can’t feed like usual, they just want a little drink…every 5 minutes. They cry continuously and will not be comforted by anyone but you (Mum)! They snuffle all night long and you spend each moment worried it will develop into something worse, checking they are still breathing and then crying along side them when at 4am they are still awake and fussing after their 1am feed!!! You get the idea…it’s not a lot if fun! Should your other children get ill too around the same time, buckle up and hold on tight…it will not be a nice time. Think children taking it in turns to wake up throughout the night, grizzly kiddies wanting your undivided attention and at least one who is still relatively healthy climbing the walls out if frustration! It is pretty much unending and possible the most draining time you will go through in those early days.

But you will get through! Keep them warm, keep them close, keep them upright when you can. Steam up the bathroom, wear ‘Snuffle Babe’ on you like perfume and pop some lavender oil in their bath (just as a relaxing aid, not a cold cure). If you fancy trying the saline drops for their nose go for it, even if its just to watch in fascination at how their drippy noses suddenly fill with humongous crusty bogies that you can enjoy pulling out later!! ūüėČ Above all try to rest when you can. If you are not someone that likes napping, just pop your feet up with a cuppa or a magazine for 5 minutes when they finally sleep. Watch a bit of TV or just enjoy watching your tiddly one sleep (propped up on your chest no doubt so they can breathe). If you can take a nap or even enjoy a proper sleep, then do. Anything to fuel your tank for the next sleepless night!
As for the older ones stay strong. Take the days slowly. After the crazy rush and trauma of getting the well child to school along with dragging the poorly ones up the hill too, settle yourself on the sofa together: read some books, do some colouring, watch some TV, have lots of cuddles and snuggle down for a kip if you can. The washing can wait, the dishes can be left till later, the chores will still be there once everyone is better, so enjoy the extra time with your big ones and ride the storm together. It will pass!

 

3. Some days you just won’t want to get up at all.

So after numerous wakeful nights full of less than satisfactory feeding, poorly children, tears, tantrums and whirring minds you are bound to get to the point where you have just about reached your limit. Your body will ache from the lack of sleep, your ears will be ringing from the constant crying, your eyes will burn from the tears and your chest will pound from the frustration. The last thing you need is for your alarm to be blaring out in the wee small hours and a school run to get through.

Fear not though my friend. Just when you feel you have nothing else to give, your days will change. Your baby might choose that day to start smiling, your partner might suddenly decide to tidy the kids bedroom, your older children might bring you home a picture, learn to read or just get on for 5 minutes! If you are really blessed a friend (or even 2) might go out of their way to drop off some goodies at your door!! Take pleasure and comfort in the small things and it will help see you through those dark days.
Also rest! As much as you can. Go back to bed after the school run if you can or get into bed as soon as your children are in theirs at night. Treat yourself to a bubble bath to relax in (day or night) or put your feet up with a cuppa and a magazine if you can’t sleep. Just allow yourself time to adjust, recuperate and relax.
A few other life hacks for getting through those days where energy is in short supply are these:
Take a shower before you go to bed and set your alarm for 10 minutes later. Even if you are already awake in the morning, those few extra moments in bed can feel like heaven.
Use dry shampoo! No one need know that you haven’t washed your hair (again)! A quick squirt of that and you’re good to go! Mask your body odour with a bit of deodorant and the school run seems manageable again after being up all night and sleeping through your alarm!
Encourage the older kids to help out where they can-make their own packed lunches, find uniform the night before, put the breakfast things out after tea so they can help themselves in the morning,etc. Just remember to check what they have packed themselves for lunch before you go…and perhaps remove the uncooked garlic bread from their lunch box even if they are convinced it is a baguette with cream cheese!!

 

4. There will be sibling rivalry!

Whichever way you look at it, having a new baby is a big adjustment… for everyone. Even the most calm and serene family members will be shaken by this tiny one. From fierce over protectiveness, to intense jealousy, your other children will ride the wave of the highs and lows with you.
To begin with your older children will be so excited (well once they’ve stopped crying about you having a girl instead of a boy). They will want cuddles and kisses. They will pose eagerly for photographs and talk endlessly to relatives when asked ‘what is it like having a baby?’ They will ‘help’ with bath time and nappy changes. They might even go get things for you that you’ve left lying around the house! However, just like our own ‘honeymoon period’ (of adrenaline fueled hormones) slowly but surely disappears so too will their initial wonder and tolerance. I find that this usually happens around 6 weeks after baby arrives, give or take and can really throw all your best parenting efforts to the wind! Anything from acting out, to rudeness, to purposefully hurting others (baby included), being withdrawn, sad or overtired are reactions to their new role in life. Throw starting school into the mix and you’re really asking for trouble!

But once again, the storm of sibling rivalry can be survived…or at least eased somewhat. Something as simple as articulating how your older children might be feeling can really help them feel heard and understood. For example, saying out loud ‘it’s hard work sharing Mummy with a new baby that feeds all the time, isn’t it’ or ‘it must be a bit annoying having to wait til after I’ve done the feed to go to the park’, etc can really validate the massive change these other little people are going through.
Any chance you get to spend a little bit of time 1:1 with the others or with both of them away from the baby should be grabbed with both hands. For example, if one of you needs to pop out to get milk or something, take one of the older ones with you, or if one of the older ones wake up whilst you’re in the shower, take the time to give them a big hug with both arms (preferably once dry). If someone is having a cuddle with the baby use the time to play a game with the others, read their favourite book, talk to them! Any thing that reminds them that you still love them, value their company and miss the extra time together.
If your older ones like to ‘help’ encourage it. It may take four times as long to popper those 3 buttons at the end of the baby grow, but your older one will feel so useful and wanted! Ask them to choose an outfit for the baby (she won’t mind if the colours/patterns clash), pass you the wipes, wash their face,etc and be genuinely thankful for the help. It might not feel like much now, but with encouragement they will soon be of real use and their bond with their new sibling will be stronger because of it.

 

5. Every night you will go to bed thinking you’ve neglected at least one of your children.
Mother’s guilt is a gift you are given by the universe the minute you become a parent. From sun up to sun down you will feel guilty about something-you were too harsh when dealing with a tantrum, your children are missing out, you gave them oven chips…again, you haven’t ironed any clothes in about a month, you’ve let them watch too much TV, etc,etc. The list is endless and can leave you feeling completely overwhelmed at times. Now that you have 3 children to juggle, your guilt levels will increase by another notch and the simple pleasure of spending time with each one, doing something they enjoy every day just isn’t always possible, especially if your baby is cluster feeding again. Can you believe you ever thought having just 2 children was hard work?!!
However, instead of always beating yourself up for yet another day passing when you feel one of the older kids hasn’t been given your full attention, hasn’t got to play that board game with you, despite asking for weeks now, hasn’t been read to for about 3 nights running,etc make time to at least connect with each child each day. This can be done through very simple actions, such as holding them for that little bit extra when they wake up, looking into their eyes and really listening to what they are telling you, showing you are interested in them by asking meaningful questions about their day, genuinely praising them for something they have done/achieved/helped with, putting on their favourite song while you cook so you can all have a boogie, or setting up their favourite toys/games for when they come home from school, even if you don’t then get a chance to play with them. Basically little actions of kindness that make them feel loved, cared for, secure and special even when you haven’t spent a lot of time together. Think quality over quantity for now.

 

6. You will not always be the mum you want to be.
Continuing on from the previous point, when you’re not beating yourself up for not being present enough for your children, you will exhaust yourself with feelings of inadequacy instead! The house will never be how you want it. The Hoover will become an archaic relic lost at the back of your cupboard. The bathroom will no longer gleam after a deep clean. In fact it will not even get cleaned any time soon. There are much more important things to do in those five seconds your hands are free.
Alongside the filthy house making you feel embarrassed every time the doorbell rings and with a feeling of not being able to truly relax, you will also have moments when your parenting is completely under par too. Some days will just not be great.

There are no two ways about it, it is exhausting having 3 little ones. It is tiring being up time and time again each night and draining when you don’t even have 5 minutes alone of a day, so the last thing you need to be doing is aiming for perfection. Of course its not all going to be rosey all of the time. You have just added another human to the mix with another set of needs to be met. There will be times, days, weeks even where you will fall short, shout, maybe rage in frustration or simply don’t like it, but it doesn’t have to define who you are or your parenting style.
Be honest when things get to much, voice your feelings in the moment or ring a trusted friend/family member to help calm you down. Take a minute to look at the situation objectively and think what you can do to improve it. Will it just be too much to start cooking dinner tonight, whilst feeding and breaking up a fight? Then give the kids a cold tea or a simple dippy egg tonight. Do you need someone to take the older kids off your hands for an afternoon so that everyone gets a break? Would it help if your friend did the dishes next time they visit? They did offer after all. Above all, be kind to yourself. We are human and not perfect and that’s OK.

 

7. At least one person will judge or comment on your parenting style.
When we are ‘getting it right’ and finally having a day where things are looking more as you imagined you will probably end up coming into contact with¬†someone who will pass judgement on your parenting rather than yourself this time! It might be that the Doctor doesn’t agree with you delaying the immunisations, or the Health Visitor questioning your co-sleeping habits. It might be a parent at the school gate commenting (negatively) on the way you babywear or that your older children are poorly behaved.¬†Seriously it goes on-you are too harsh on your kids, you are a complete pushover, you have given your baby a dummy, ¬†you have stopped breastfeeding, etc,etc. Unfortunately you won’t always be encouraged as a parent and it is very easy for others to become offended by differences no matter what you do or why you do them. Society seems to have become really good at putting others down and targeting the most vulnerable.

But don’t let it get to you. (I need to keep reminding myself of this one) Be proud of who you are and who your children are. Accept that not everyone will see things the way you do or do things in the same way. Surround yourself with people you know will be supportive when you can and use it as amour when you come across negativity. Know that you are doing your best with the tools you have been given and listen to the truth. Just keep going and smile in the face of adversity. That really helps…you can always have a private cry later!

 

8. You will experience intense loneliness.
When you are tired and you are regularly feeding in the early days, you have multiple school runs to fit in and food to prepare for when the children get home it can feel like an impossible task to add socialising to the mix. It can be very tempting to head straight back home after dropping the older ones at school and immediately crack on with all the other things on your to-do list or head back to bed for a nap. And by all means this is fine…but maybe not every day as this feeds the isolation and can have you spiraling into a rather gloomy place.
Your head may be so wrapped up in remembering what to do, what time you need to be where, which appointment is on which day and even what your children are called that to begin with it can be hard to think what you can say to anyone else and not be the bore that only talks about their baby (like this entire blog).

But keep trying. If someone invites you over or out for a coffee and you could go say ‘yes’. You don’t have to stay for too long and if you are worried about having a conversation, be the listener that day. Let your friend do the talking and really listen so you can hear what they are saying. In no time you will be able to relate to something they say (after all you are friends) and be able to give something to the conversation too. If you are not up for going out, invite people round. They really will not care what state your house is in. They will just want to see you (and the baby). And if you still can’t bring yourself to see anyone, at least send a text to someone, call your mum or send an email. Something that will provide you with a bit of connection that day and relive a bit of the loneliness.

 

9. Your body will still be unrecognisable!

Despite being told breastfeeding will help you regain your body after birth I can quite honestly say this is not always the case. Yes, you will see people snap back into their skinny jeans within seconds of pushing a baby out, but underneath that tight material they may still have the baby pouches. If you are like me however, you won’t get back into any of your old clothes any time soon and the baby pouch that should¬†only be on your stomach will in fact spread to every corner of your body so that each morning when you go to have a shower you are rudely stared at by the stranger in the full length mirror next to your bath! Your skin will break out like never before from all those crazy hormones still wandering around inside and your hair will look like you have oiled it, no matter how many times you wash it.

But don’t beat yourself up about it. You have just created a beautiful baby who is not bothered in the slightest about the way you look, smell or dress. In fact as long as you feed them and comfort them you are pretty much perfect in their eyes! There really is no rush to look like a model and you will always be your harshest critic so step away from the mirror (and spend as little time as possible naked)! Honestly though, it can be hard not recognizing yourself in the early days so why not treat yourself and take a nice long bubble bath (ensuring those bubbles cover your alien body). Pop to the charity shops and find some new clothes that fit. That way you don’t have to part with too much money, you are helping a worthy cause and once you do fit into your old clothes you can get rid of them without feeling too wasteful. Get a hair cut or restyle. If you aren’t able to go out to one, look up mobile hairdressers, ask a friend to help you or just grab a home dying kit. All these little things that can change how we feel about ourselves and help us be more accepting of who we are now. If you are able do one thing each day that cheers you up you will feel muvh more positive. It doesn’t need to cost money. Having a coffee with your feet up, watching your favourite film, reading a few pages of a book, looking through old photographs, etc can all help you feel a bit more…you! ūüôā

 

10. You will resent your partner (more than once)

From the heady feeling of love and gratitude you have for your partner when your baby arrives, to the solidarity and security having them around brings, to the complete hate and resentment at watching your partner sleep soundly whilst you pace¬†the floor at 3am with a baby screaming blue murder. Is it really¬†possible to sleep through a whole night?! I can’t even remember the last time I did that! There is a whole host of feelings you will experience towards the one you love.

It’s amazing how our emotions can roller coaster from one to the other within seconds! The initial acceptance of them going out for the evening can quickly turn sour if you get to spend the time they are relaxing at the cinema rocking the baby (that you have been holding all day) as they won’t stop crying. It is easy to let their small irritants become major grievances and their ‘man flu’ make you want to move out!

But the way to help regulate your feelings (other than extra sleep) is to communicate. If you simply ask for help you are more likely to get some rather than stamping¬†around the house slamming cupboards…Trust me, they really don’t get that hint!! You are parents together. You both have a responsibility to take care of the children and of each other. If you need a break tell them you do. If they need a break let them have one. You need to be honest and let it go both ways. (I am definitely still working on both of these). Take time to remember why you love them. Show them you love them (even if you can’t get near to them without a small child in the way). Tell them you love them…it will help you believe it next time you’re watching them sleep whilst you don’t and let them show you they love you. It can be so easy to push those closest to us away when we are struggling. Let your partner see your raw emotions, but remember to get them to help too so you can all survive them.

 

11. You will cry…a lot!
The combination of regular feeding, lack of sleep and surviving pushing an 8lb baby out of your yoohoo is never going to be the winning combuination for positivity and there will be days where you will just cry. Maybe without even knowing why. It can feel like you are on your own and no one understands what you are going through. It can feel like you haven’t slept properly in about a year, no matter how many naps you have had lately. That your partner just does not get it, that your friends are having a much better time with their new baby. That you miss your mum, are fed up of always feeling cross or the new advert out is just so sweet! (Apparently! I have yet to cry at anything on the tv!I save my tears for everything else!)

Whatever it is that is making you cry. It’s going to be ok. Sometimes a good cry is just what we need. If you are crying because of one of the other things listed in these points, check out the survival tips, grab yourself a bar of your favourite chocolate and ask a friend to share it with you…or maybe just invite a friend round and keep the chocolate all for yourself!! Most importantly be honest though! When we are vulnerable others will also share their vulnerabilities and you won’t feel so alone or they might have some great advice for you if that is what you are looking for. Let others know that you are not having the best time of late and allow yourself to actually say the words ‘I am upset/struggling/feeling low’. Once you get that part out of the way I assure you, you will feel a little brighter!

 

12. You will constantly spam Facebook/Instagram!
You have officially become that person that puts up every photo ever taken of your baby! But so what!? It is a great reminder of all the things your baby can do, all the good times you have spent together and a record of what you have been up to over the past 3 months when you are struggling to remember! Your distant family can tap into your lives and feel a part of the progress you have all made and remember what you all look like before the next visit! Looking through your photos can also be a great way to calm you in the hormonal storms, settle you in the bleakest moments and celebrate that you have survived! So go on, get snapping!

 

13. You will feel that 3 months has flown by once you get there!

 

Enough said! It really is such a short time that the bad days seem worth it now! Good luck. Stay strong and above all be kind to yourself. ūüôā

Love and Peace Xx

The Final Chapter

Week 38
I am now officially the most pregnant I’ve ever been. Not quite the achievement I had hoped for!¬†Each day feels harder than the last and I¬†go to bed exhausted and wondering how I will cope with yet another day full of family life and a big belly! I wake up tearful, snappy and short tempered, wishing I could find¬†enough energy to survive the day. This really isn’t how I hoped the last few days of the holiday would go, so on top of the misery I feel guilty for letting the boys down (again)! Everything feels completely overwhelming even though I do it daily: The chores seem impossible, the cooking feels too much like hard work and as for the washing and ironing just forget it! What an absolute misery I have become! All I really want is¬†5 minutes to myself where I can curl up in a dark room and be still, but I don’t feel I can just ask anyone to help out with such a selfish request, especially when they will be off to school in just a few days ūüė¶ Oh why can’t family be around?!

When I do have moments (albeit fleeting) of positivity I try to think about this little one and what s/he might be like once they are here. Will s/he be calm and peaceful like they currently are inside? Will s/he feel part of this family immediately or will that come with time? If Weetabix’s brothers are anything to go by, his/her personality will reflect exactly their movements in utero! Whilst pregnant with Ethan he would move constantly, especially at night and once born this continued. He is definitely the Tigger in our family and took 6 years to figure out the difference between night and day!! Lucas was much more serene whilst inside, though some days he would move around much more than others and now he still has times of full on energy mixed with calmer periods and quietness! So who knows, I might actually have a baby that sleeps a bit!! Just imagine!!

Well there haven’t been any signs that labour is imminent or will begin spontaneously, so perhaps I will be pregnant forever! I’ve had no contractions this week, just lots of backache and Weetabix is still more palpable than engaged. The midwife even offered a sweep to get things moving-as if!! I really just want to relax and let nature do its thing, but patience and relaxing just aren’t coming that easily right now!! And to top it all off it’s back to school tomorrow with “that hill” just waiting for me! I realise I have focused on this part of the school journey far too much over this pregnancy, so I’m hoping when we return the reality of walking up it will actually be much better than what I am imagining and if not that the extra walk each day will at least help labour?!

Despite it being yet another grouchy type of week the return to school is made a lot easier by Ethan actually looking forward to Year 2! He is keen to start the new challenge and is excited to see all his friends again-phew! Even though there are far too many¬†¬†“oh you’re still going then” and ” You not had it yet” comments, (like I hadn’t noticed how gigantic I had gotten) Lucas and I have good day together whilst waiting for pick up, including a much needed nap and some baking! Then at¬†pick up another parent comes over to say ‘hi’ and I’m dreading the conversation about how uncomfortable I must be,or how long left etc, but she simply says ‘there is something about the way you look¬†that tells me you are ready to have this baby’.¬†If only she was right…

Week 38+6-39+0
…Whilst eating tea and washing up afterwards I had a couple of contractions that just seemed that little bit more painful than before. I had to properly breathe through them, but they didn’t last very long, maybe 15 seconds maximum and then that was it. Another few happened over the course of the evening, but I didn’t think anything of it, hoping perhaps that the baby might have moved down a bit or was starting to engage properly.
Going to bed that night, early at like 9ish (I was so tired despite sleeping in the afternoon) I couldn’t get comfortable easily. The contractions were kind of continuing, but with no regularity and they didn’t feel any stronger, but I thought I would try to time a few (after finding an app on my phone) just to pass the time. Well that told me all of nothing!! Some were 30-40 seconds long, whereas others were only about 15 or 20 seconds. Some were just 3 minutes apart, but then I’d have a good gap of 10 minutes where nothing happened. Also because they weren’t all that painful I just imagined they would die out eventually so I tried to sleep. However, I was still tossing and turning a while¬†later with the pains continuing¬†every now and then, so I tried timing them again¬†seeing as they hadn’t gone away. I did this¬†for about 20 minutes and they were now lasting between 40 seconds and 1 minute so I started to secretly hope we could be on to something. However, they still hasn’t grown in intensity and there would be long gaps between them still so I wasn’t confident. I finally fell asleep so they can’t have been that bad at all!!
Fast forward a few hours and I wake up to more contractions. Are they more painful? I can’t really tell, but my back is hurting and lying down is NOT comfortable so I decide to get up and potter! I make a hot water bottle, after dodging all the night time slugs (eugh gross) in the kitchen and settle on my gym ball in front of the TV. I’m sure Greg Wallace will be able to distract me from any discomfort if he can save me some pennies on our weekly food shop! I really do love ‘Live Well For Less’. I was right! Apart from groaning through a few pains I manage to finish the program before Lucas wakes up needing a hug because he had a poorly hand and wondering why I was downstairs in the middle of the night! I tried to lie down in his bed to resettle him, but the next contraction was the first rather painful one and not only did I rewake Lucas, Ethan also woke up to check I was OK: “Is your tummy hurting Mummy? Do you think Weetabix wants to come out now?”¬†Still not convinced this is the real deal, because it’s felt like I’ve been waiting for ‘this moment’ for so long I try not to get his hopes up, but tell him that Weetabix is certainly doing something right now!

Despite the night now becoming early morning I don’t want to get ahead of myself and feel cheated if/when it all stops so I decide I should head back to bed. After all that hill won’t walk itself in the morning! Plus with a few positive affirmations (telling myself “I can do this”, “my body was made to do this”,etc) whizzing through my head with each pain I still feel in control, so if it is the start of labour there’s still going to be a long road to travel yet. Right?! Well perhaps not! Once back in bed a¬†particularly stingy contraction takes my breath away&I obviously make (too much) noise as Carl finally wakes up!! Things seem to have cranked up a notch so I give him the job of rubbing my back whilst timing the contractions-men need to feel useful right-to see where we might be at now. He also has to pop Ethan back to bed a couple of times as he is buzzing with excitement and dying to do something to help. We swap a few excited grins and squeals between the pains and he encourages me to “Keep breathing” so that it goes away. Ethan is truly wonderful and later rubs my back, runs a bath for me and softly reassures me each time I’m in pain. I’m not sure where his strength and knowledge come from, but it is almost as if he is in tune with me and knows immediately how to respond without being too overbearing or overwhelmed. It is wonderful to share such a special time with him and I will never forget how brilliant he was in the moment. He knew there was nothing to be afraid of and that the pains needed to happen in order for Weetabix to make an entrance into the world. I am really glad he woke up and could feel a part of it all!
By now Carl had convinced me this is the real deal and it was time to ring Ruth (my sister that lives about half an hour away) so she could come and look after the boys. I also call my mum in case she¬†is able to come too and she assures me that once she wakes up my little sisters and gets their stuff in the car (they were all packed ready bless them) they will be on their way! All those weeks of worrying things wouldn’t work out and then by some miracle everything comes together! Perhaps I should be getting excited now, but hang on those contractions that suddenly intensified are by now coming very regularly and very strongly! Ouch!

Carl goes¬†off to get the work car (he later tells me he ran all the way as he knew time was running out) which happened to be free and parked at church. I decided to run a bath to see if the warm water would help with the pain or at least give me a distraction from this becoming all a bit too real! This is when Ethan becomes the man of the house. He is there and ready to help. He steps into Carl’s shoes whilst Carl gets the car and keeps me focused and calm (ish) (I’m in the zone now). When Lucas wakes up disorientated and worried that I’m in pain Ethan hugs him and excitedly tells him the baby is on the way so Mummy will be ok soon. If I wasn’t focusing on getting through the pains I think I would have cried with pride. What an absolute treasure. Anyhow the bath idea didn’t really work as 1) there was hardly any hot water left and 2) I was already past the point of ‘home remedies’! Also soon after I got in the water my own waters go and a whole tidal wave fills the bath! Ethan is fascinated!

Carl is back and is very insistent we get going to Hospital now that my sister has taken over with the boys. He has rung the Birth Centre who are ready and waiting, but I can’t seem to move! Each contractions is happening with such intensity that I only just about manage to snatch a breath before the next one starts! I swear it takes about an hour to get out the bath, get dried, get dressed, get down stairs and into the car! Poor Carl was trying very hard to encourage a speedy getaway knowing how close this baby was to being born, whereas I was so far into the zone that I was just getting cross! Ooops!

Anyway we finally arrived at the hospital at 5:10 in the morning and just about made it into the Birth Centre before I promptly threw up everywhere! So¬†embarrassing! ¬†We managed to get into a room and start filling the pool whilst I sucked on a bit of gas and air. I’m still not convinced this helps with pain at all, but it certainly distracts me and makes me feel all funny! I asked to lie down whilst the pool was filling up as the gas and air made me feel like I was going to pass out. Well once I lay down that was it! I started pushing (just as Carl reappeared from having moved the car) and at 5.43am Weetabix was born! I kinda feel like I wasted the whole Hospital thing and certainly felt guilty for all the water that had run and then wasn’t used! I have to admit I was super flustered and disorientated as I had no idea it was all going to be that quick so when they passed me our new baby I wasn’t really with it. However, I did remember to have a quick peek as they passed Weetabix over and could not believe it when I saw we had a girl!!! I think I rechecked quite a few times before it really sunk in! I was so convinced I’d be a mum to a tribe of boys I really hadn’t imagined having a girl! It was such a super surprise and I am so glad that once again we didn’t find out before hand. It truly is worth all the pain and effort to have a true miracle placed in your arms and still have the excitement of finding out whether you have a boy or a girl. If only we could think of a name…