Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

My life...according to Facebook!

A very nifty little app that was brought to my attention by a fellow blogger and Twitter fan. A collection of some of my best statuses from 2010 and trust me there were a few too many to choose from. My new years resolution may be to spend a little less time social networking and a little more time just actually socialising or networking!

Have a go yourself and share with the rest of us:

Monday, 6 December 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, let it sss....hmmm on second thoughts!

For many the prospect of snow is a welcome one, the chance to kick back and re-connect with your childhood, sledging, snowman building, snowball fighting and possibly, if you are really lucky, a day off work!

For a mother with very young, pram bound children, the prospect of snow is most definitely not a welcome one! It means you are confined to your house and a very limited area immediately surrounding it. Luckily for me, well guess it actually depends on how you look at it, maybe fortunately for me (with last weeks snow) I live across the road from a major supermarket with built in cafe facilities. So at least had slightly less limited options when it came to entertaining my toddler because dragging the pram through snow, ice and blizzards, puffing and panting and sweating like...well a very sweaty person, is not my idea of fun in the snow! Our local council worked extremely hard this time to make sure that they kept the roads as snow-free and passable as possible. However what they failed to remember was that us mothers cannot 'drive' our prams down the road! Well we could but am not sure you would do it more than once, if you catch my drift (ohh look an unintentional snow pun, how clever of me). 

This is my second year as a snow mum and I have to say I am not yet convinced that the world is a better place just because it's covered in a blanket of white! 

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Self control? No madam I don't believe we stock that here...

Before I had Emily I always wondered how parents could go so overboard with their Christmas spending, if I'm honest I even judged (just a teeny, tiny bit). Their is nothing worse than a spoilt child! Always conjures up memories of Verruca from 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' and well we all know what happened to her. 

So although I still feel the same, I no longer judge because I now understand the inclination to give your child everything their little heart could wish for. It's like a gut reaction, you have no real control over your desire to make your little one(s) happy! We are of course constrained by other factors, such as a lack of endless supplies of cash and the fact that I may enjoy buying ridiculous amounts of presents, however I lack the same energy and enthusiasm to wrap all said presents. Of course their is always a way around these problems, credit cards and presents so big that wrapping them would be a complete waste of time. 

However it is scary that in the current economic crisis we can all still find the vast sums of money required to 'Do Christmas'. I overheard a news reporter relaying the fact that most people will do Christmas on credit this year as people are no longer saving. Well maybe that has to do with very few of us having any spare cash to save, that combined with the fact that most credit companies seem to be offering interest free on everything at the moment. I don't think I have made an interest payment on my credit card for at least the last 18 months. Although in our case the tax man is paying for our Christmas and our family holiday next year, thank you very much. A nice little rebate saw to that...don't you love it when they finally give something back. 

Anyway all of that said I am determined to practice some self-control and not rush from shop to shop, exclaiming in delight, 

"Ohhhhh Emily would love this, and this oohhh and this..." And every time I go shopping I am determined that NEXT TIME I will definitely succeed in my mission. Oh dear!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

The true meaning of 'mum'

Covered in vomit, scrubbing down a mattress and a cot at midnight.

Two and a half hours of enforced insomnia whilst trying to get my daughter to sleep in the bed with me. All the time hoping that when we do finally fall asleep, we aren't woken a hour later by a repeat performance of the midnight antics.  Not one of the nicer way to be woken..vomit in the face!

Giving up on trying to get my daughter to sleep and returning her to a freshly made up cot, wondering if you have any more spare blankets and bedding for a predicted repeat performance of the midnight antics.

Finally falling asleep to wake with a start an hour and a half later in a blind panic, wondering where your sleeping daughter has gone to (vision of her lying at the bottom of the stairs), until you remember that you put her back in her cot an hour and a half ago!

Check on sleeping daughter and go back to sleep for 3 and half hours before daughter wakes you at half seven, looking...well... just fine! CHILDREN!!!

Oh and Gavin was complaining because the washing machine was too noisy for him, whilst he slept in comfort and peace in the back bedroom! MEN!!!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The times they are a changing...

So having made the decision to think about going back to work, imagine my surprise, when I was offered an interview on the first job that I applied for. Now thinking about something and the actually reality are two completely different things.

My first reaction to the news was sadness, that later lead to tears! Not normally the reaction that most potential employers would prefer. They expect you to have been in employment for at least 6 months before the depression and desperation kicks in! 

I just kept looking at my little girl and thinking I am not ready for this! I wish I had the option of working part-time to begin with, ease us both in to the transition. However in the current economic climate, there are a severe lack of full-time jobs let alone part-time ones.

So I can honestly say that despite the smile plastered to my face, I am heavy of heart. I know the pro's outweigh the con's, I know that she will adapt a whole lot quicker than me to this potentially new situation, I know that I have not even been offered the job yet, I know that even if I am offered the job I do not have to take it, I know that I can take the job and work my probation and if I don't like it I can leave! I know that the extra money would be a godsend as we are extremely stretched, I know that it would be great for Emily to be interacted with other children her own age in a stimulating environment that would encourage her development no end. I know all this but it doesn't change the fact that I feel like I am coming to the end of an era, a life changing era. And that working, will never be the same as it was before. I have different priorities now...

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The potty and the pee!

It's funny what motherhood will make you proud of...

When my daughter was about 14 months old I bought a potty. I thought if it was there she could get used to it, get inquisitive about it. At first she wasn't remotely interested, then she would cry whenever I sat her on it. She then progressed to walking around with it on her head, this behaviour was discouraged immediately as I had visions of months down the line, leaving her to do her business and coming back to find her spinning around and around the room, potty on head, covered in poo! 

However just recently she has taken to sitting on it, with or without her nappy on and when asked where we go for wee's and poo's she will run off to retrieve the potty and bring it to me. Having read up some information though I had decided to leave off any form of potty training until after Christmas, maybe even wait until after her second birthday in April. 

So imagine my surprise this morning when I discovered that my daughter had done her first potty wee! Yes that is right, she sat down on the potty, on her own and went for a wee. I was in the process of dressing her for the day and had left her in the lounge with my sister, Emily was naked and the potty was in it's usual spot, the middle of the lounge. I had casually mentioned as I left the room that if Emily needed a 'wee wee' then she must use the potty like a big girl. And that's precisely what she did much to my amazement and delight! 

Now there is no saying that she had any idea what she was doing, it was probably just a happy coincidence that she happened to be on her potty when the call of nature came but I like to think that we have taken a teeny, tiny step towards those nappy free days I have been dreaming of! Oh happy days!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Peppa Pig...who?

As I look around me, I can see my darling daughter dressed in her 'Minnie Mouse' dressing gown, sitting in a sea of discarded toys that include not one but two handbags, sporting 'Hello Kitty' and 'The Little Mermaid' themes and it strikes me again how much I loath this character indoctrination we provide from such a young age. Now my bestfriend will have to forgive me for this post, as she is a frequent reader of my blog and provided the 'Minnie Mouse' dressing gown (which in all honesty I actually think is quite cute and it keeps my daughter suitably warm which is the job it was designed to do).

However since the moment Emily was born, she has gone through high volumes of character themed clothes. Dora the explorer, Peppa Pig, Hello Kitty and an array of Disney characters. And on receiving each present I have had to physically restrain myself from uttering the words 'why'? Instead I have replaced this question with a smile and a thank you as is the correct, appropriate, polite adult response (and I am nothing if not accommodating). When alone I have looked at said item and wondered, once again, why? My daughter is now only 18 months old and until recently had no real sense of self, she still doesn't some days, let alone any care or regard for Peppa Pig or any of these other popular characters. In fact we have never even watched Peppa Pig, we only ever watch Cbeebies.  

It does frustrate me enormously and I know that I sounds completely irrational but to me it shows a complete lack of imagination and an assumption that all children, because they are children, will just be instantly attracted to these superficial characters. I mean what has Dora the Explorer ever done for my daughter? Or me for that matter? 

I buy clothes for my daughter based on the following criteria, how expensive are they? Will they fit her properly and not strink on first wash? Are they pink? The last one is a form of indocriniation of my own, but not for Emily's benefit for the general masses that assume just because my daughter is of larger stature that she must be a boy!

"Oh he is lovely isn't he?"
"Yes, SHE is very lovely thank you".

Of course even the pink doesn't always work...some people are just stupid but I don't hold that against them.

Now don't get me wrong, once Emily has grown up a little and can actually keep her attention to an entire episode of Peppa Pig or one of Walt Disney's classic cartoons (which I will be watching with her...for supervisory purposes of course) and the day she turns to me, her little red ringlets swaying from side to side and utters the words 

"Mummy Ariel has red hair like me, am I a mermaid too?"

or words to that effect then I will happily go out and buy her (within reason of course) all the 'Little Mermaid' paraphernalia her little heart desires. However until that time arrives, I fear it will continue to annoy me and 'oh joy' Christmas is just around the corner.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The art of reasoning...

Generally speaking as parents I think most of us are not in any hurry to see our children grow up.  As much as we grow excited at the thought of the next stage of their development, we want to enjoy it and cherish them. However there are exceptions to this. 

I look forward to, relish the day that Emily will be fully potty trained and capable of using the 'grown up girls' toilet. No more nappies, cream, wipes, cotton more stinky, horrible, gag inducing dirty nappies. No more screaming fits when she has nappy rash and understandably doesn't want you anywhere near her bottom.

Dressing herself. Trying to get a toddler, to stand still long enough to allow you to put their socks on, do up the tie on their trousers, close the poppers on their all-in-one suit etc...Well in fact just getting Emily's nappy on is a struggle (another reason to look forward to nappy free days). She will not stand still, she absolutely refuses and trying to reason with a child, well we all know that's just stupid really isn't it. Because in reality if you could you would explain to your child,

'Now darling mummy needs you to stand still for a few minutes whilst I get you dressed and then you can go and play because I know that's what you'd much rather be doing'.

In fact given the option your children would probably spend most of their time running around naked or almost naked. The job of dressing is a real inconvenience to them, because it's just such a delight for us parents! If you could reason, you would explain that it would take a third of the time it actually does if they just STOOD STILL. Instead you wrestle with them morning, noon and night, fighting for superiority. What have we been reduced to?!

Finally I look forward to the days when I will re-gain ownership of...well everything make up, my food, the TV, my sleep, my life. No wait, you mean I am a Mother FOREVER!! Oh...but it does get better, right and when that's? When they leave home and then they only need you half the time. Right, silly me!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Me and my shadow...

You ever have one of those days where everything feels wrong and out of place? A day where you don't know where to start and what to do? Well I'm having one of those, except it's in the form of a year! 

Some days my life is relatively mundane, Emily and I go about our routine with an air of nonchalance. We eat, we play, we take a stroll, she has a nap and I dream of napping whilst up to my eyeballs in housework. These are the days that fill the gaps in between. Then there are the days when my life resembles an episode of Eastenders, without the east London accent of course! I am in essence, perpetually trapped in a misery of my own making. 

I am not sure when or how I lost my way but it has been lost, that I know for sure. Most days I feel like I am only existing at half measure. Like potentially I have so much more to give, appreciate and experience but I cannot access it. The door has been closed off and I am groping about in the dark trying to find the handle. 

There is a sadness that envelopes me, it surrounds me and I cannot hide from it. It follows me, like a shadow, always there. Only some notice, those closest to me, or correction those who know me best. You can share a life with someone, a house, a bed and not really see them or their sadness or maybe you see their sadness but you refuse to acknowledge it as it may threaten your existence, your happiness. 

This sadness comes from loneliness that I have felt for such a long time. Although as a mother (parent) you are never really alone in body, your child/children will always be a source of comfort, entertainment, inspiration, worry and concern. You can be alone in mind and there are other forms of comfort and love that we require as adults and people. When these are lacking then what happens? 

There are times when I feel strong enough, when I think I may have the courage to throw caution to the wind and change what needs to be changed but most of the time I am just weary, caught in a situation that suits my immediate needs. Too scared or tired or both to change anything.

I hope for a change, Sometimes I even pray for it (although I am not remotely religious). I want to feel happy again! And there are moments, short periods of time when I do, when I am with the right people, the people that can make me smile, when I think anything might be possible. I allow myself to dream and to imagine a life lived to it's full potential. In contentment and surrounded by the people that truly know me, that always have and will always love me for who I am and have always been. That is my's what I hold on to.  

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Easy like a 'rainy' Sunday afternoon...

I have recently realised that I have a really low boredom threshold, especially when stuck in the house, on a rainy Sunday, with a toddler whose threshold is considerable lower than mine and a man quite content to waste a few hours playing his guitar and watching 'Chelsea v Arsenal'! Wow a lazy Sunday afternoon! I think I remember those (wistfully she reminisces).

Even my regular text buddy, who shall remain nameless, has deserted me. Probably off enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon of their own. 

I find it so frustrating, the complete lack of imagination in my house, and this is by no means a dig at Gavin. I am myself completely void of original ideas for fun days out, when it's a) literally pouring water from the sky, you know the kind of rain where it's like someone turned a tap on b) you have limited funds available to you and c) you have chosen small town living over the big city lifestyle.

You see I have no problem being lazy when the mood takes me, I can lounge around with the best of them but generally speaking I am the kind of person that likes to be doing something, anything constructive with my day. This is also because I feel guilty when I look at Emily, I feel like I am not forefilling my mothering role to provide her with a stimulating environment. 

Although maybe I am worrying too much, it would seem that she has managed to amuse herself serving us imaginary tea from her pink tea set. Shame we all have to share the same cup, but 'hey ho'. So that's Gavin sorted and it's just me then?! Maybe I am just really out of practice when it comes to relaxing? I have spent so long rushing around, looking after everyone, trying to keep on top of everything that now I can take the time back, relax a little but I just cannot seem to pull it off. 

So maybe I'll try. I can sit the football...bask in the lethargy of a Sunday afternoon. Right? (pause)

No it's no good...I can't do it...Oh well time to re-organise my wardrobe I think the charity shop is due a delivery.


Sunday, 19 September 2010

You can call me da da if you like...

Ever since my daughter could utter the word, she has always referred to both myself and Gavin as da,da. To begin with it was funny, after a few more months it became mildly amusing, a few more months later and it is now ever so slightly annoying and frustrating. If one more person looks at me sympathetically, whilst trying to reassure me that it's because 'da,da' is such an easy word, I'll scream. Never mind the fact that my daughter has an ever increasing vocabulary that includes the words 'tickle, tickle'.

You see my daughter can say ma,ma, I have heard her. She walks around the house repeatedly murmuring to herself da,,,ba. And if you point to a photo of me she will immediately utter the words 'ma,ma'. However she still refers to me as da,da when calling for me, when saying goodbye or goodnight. And no matter how many times myself, Gavin, my mother, Gavin's mother or any other array of family members respond with 'no Emily MA, MA' she still just smiles that cheeky grin and with a twinkle in her eye opens her mouth and utters 'ahhh......... da,da'.

Only 17 months old and already a comedian...

Monday, 6 September 2010

Tantrums and tears

Emily is now 16½ months old and has recently aquired a new word in her ever expanding vocabulary. The word is 'no' and she is not afraid to use it, all the time, all day every day in fact and it would seem she understands very well in what context this word can be used. And in a strangely conincidial turn of events it would seem that when mummy uses the same word on her, it no longer has the same effect as it once did. 

Oh dear! 

People are forever telling me how much she looks like her daddy. This is very true, apart from the eyes (which are definitely mine) she is almost a daddy double. However she may look like Gavin but when it comes to her personality that's me...all me. Her temper, her hot hotheadedness, her stubbornness, her sensitivity. I can foresee plenty of tantrums and tears ahead of us and that will just be me! My mother and I had a very similar relationship, when I was young, growing up, throughout my childhood and into my adolescence!! huh...well at least we get on now.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Extremely dangerous. Keep out of reach of children.

"Fifi and the flowers grow, Fifi forget me not, Fifi it's a lovely day, Fifi, Fifi grows."
 Well someone was working hard when they sat down to write that little ditty weren't they!

Children toy's are the bane of any parents existence. The person/people that design them take some of the most innane, annoying, repeative music and put them into toys. Toys with bright colours and flashing lights that are designed to entice children into playing with them and repeatly pressing that button, again and again and again and again until you can't bear it anymore! "I can't do I tell you, I cannot listen to that terrible electronic version of 'Old Macdonald' any longer." you scream as you race across the room, rip the toy from your unsuspecting child's hand and launch it through the open window...oh no that's just me then?! No in reality my choice of solution is much simplier, turn it off. Because that is the one, redeaming feature of these toys, it is the toy manufactuers saving grace, the OFF switch.

So when a friend of mine recently came for a visit, having just made a visit to the grandparents to celebrate his son's 1st birthday. His partner turns to me, fake smile plastered to her face, a hint of sarcasm in her voice and tells me,

"James parents have bought Jacob a huge child-size toy train, that moves on it own, plays music and makes lots of interesting sounds" to which I reply
"Oh how lovely, hours of fun!"
"hummm yes, fun, right...oh and guess what?"  
"There's no OFF switch!"


Wednesday, 18 August 2010

You'd better stop rewind...

When did I start doing everything backwards? I always seem to adopt the more unconventional approach to life, not really through choice but more through habit. I have always done everything out of order so it has become the norm. 

Like having the child first, before the engagement, the wedding, the house. Even my DIY is out of wack, decorate a room, replace the carpet and then get the new windows!! It like I cannot help but put the horse before the cart, it's just my nature. 

My bestfriend is getting married next weekend, they met, they fell in love, they moved into together, they got engaged and now they will get married and after that...well that's up to them I guess. So is that how it's all still done? Everytime I go on Facebook someone is getting engaged, planning their hen/stag do or counting down the days till their wedding day. Whereas I just made the mutual decision to put off my wedding (indefinitely) because a: we cannot afford it and b: cannot be bothered to organise it. Everytime I think about it I can feel my stress levels rise and all I want to do is go lie down in a quiet room until the noise in my head subsides. Not good right?! I just don't think I am bride material, marriage material maybe? If I don't have to organise anything...maybe we could apply for 'Don't tell the Bride'? 


Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Me, myself and Emily

We endeavor, as parents, to send our children out into the world better people then we, ourselves, would claim to be. We strive to put right in our children the sins of our parents because as Philip Larkin proclaimed: 

"They f*ck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you."

With every generation that is born, there are parents fumbling and stumbling their way through. Trying desperately to teach their children, trying hopelessly not to repeat the mistakes of their predecessors. And yet so much of who we are is a reaction to the world around us and so, just as our parents did with us, we will inevitably leave our mark on our children. 

Having grown up in not the most conventional of households (less said about all that the better) and with my mother and father separating when I was fourteen, my relationship with my father has always been a very strained one. We just never really clicked, I have learnt, with age, to except it and him just as they are. However it left me with a urgent need to ensure that the father of my child, whoever he may be, would be everything to my child that my father could never be to me. This above all other things was of extreme importance to me.

My mother relayed to me the fact that she never felt particularly settled or secure as a child, what with an alcoholic father and a workoholic mother (by necessity), the arguments, the constant tension, the abandonment of by her mother at the age of 11 (?) and her return only to be moved 200 miles south to the coast where she knew no-one, spoke with a funny accent and no longer got to see her father. So it became of great importance to my mother that her children felt secure, safe and cherished. And she tried her utmost to achieve this through her actions, words of encouragement and her support. Shame she married a man that didn't want children, but 'hey' nobody's perfect. All joking aside, she definitely strived to improve the lives of her children to make their world just a little brighter and a little warmer then hers had been. And with every generation that is what we strive for and who knows if we continue maybe one day we will have a race of people in complete harmony with each other and themselve. Well we can dream, right?!  

Any way you look at it, the great debate of nature versus nurture can continue and you have to wonder what mark you will leave on your children?

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Health is not valued till sickness comes...

Illness and motherhood do not mix!

In previous years when illness struck me down and I was banished to my bed for a few days rest and recuperation the only people that suffered were my employers who had to manage without me for a few days.

However now that I have Emily, being ill just isn't an option! And so far I have managed really well in my efforts to avoid proper illness, however after 15 months it would seem that it is now catching up on me and dishing up a well overdue bout of sickness that in the last few weeks has included a stomach virus, swollen glands, sinus headache and now a cold and chesty cough. That's right I have endured at least 4 possibly even 5 separate episodes of illness in the last month! I'm so delirious with ill health that I have lost count. The most unfortunate being an allergic reaction to antihistamines (who knew that was even possible). My immune system is not just low, it would appear that it has packed up and gone on vacation without me! At least someone is getting a holiday this year. 

The task of looking after a child whilst feeling like death warmed up, left to go cold and then re-heated again, is not a simple one. Emily is an extremely easy going child, however she is the type of little girl that requires constant stimulation of some kind. Most days we venture out on some adventure or another and spend much of our time keeping busy until the time when she will collapse into bed and I can pass out from exhaustion on the sofa, in front of Eastenders (after I have cooked the tea of course!). 

She does not therefore understand why she is getting severely short-changed this week and feels that Ceebies is not really a suitable substitute for her mothers love and attention even if 'Something Special' has 'Mr Tumble'. All I can say is thank goodness for family, because without them this week I don't know how I would have coped. Once again I am eternally grateful for their support and in awe of parents that have to go it alone! 

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Love is a battlefield...

It would appear that my daughter, at the tender age of 14 ½ months, is learning to assert herself already. This has taken the form of refusing to eat pretty much anything I cook or put in front of her with the exception of cereal, cheese, yoghurt and strawberries! For her tea the other night she had Weetabix and banana and this was after I had offered her pork and apricot casserole, beans on toast (a former favourite) and bread and cheese spread. She would eat the cheese spread with breadsticks but I thought as a responsible mother this was hardly a suitable and sustainable meal.

My own mother has assured me that this is perfectly normal behaviour and upon further research I have found it is not uncommon in children her age. It is however extremely frustrating and wasteful. It is making meal-times unbelievably stressful for both of us and a once loved event has become something of a battle of wills. Hers mostly winning as I cannot force her to eat something that she won't but with the lists of things that she won't eat increasing daily I am starting to wonder what happens when I run out of options?! 

Gavin does not fully understand the complexity of the situation as he is yet to witness her refusing some of her once favourite foods, in fact he flat out refuses to believe me when I tell him that she will no longer eat bake beans (that's how much she loved them up until a week ago). The whole family are having a hard time believing that overnight Emily has become so fussy, this was the little girl that used to cry if you took too long with the spoon between mouthfuls. 

So I guess all I can do is ride out this latest storm and hope that it soon subsides, and when I do manage a small victory be grateful for the little things. Today she ate nearly a whole bowl of pasta and at least that's something right?!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Other peoples children!

Today I took my daughter to a new toddlers group and we had a fantastic time, lovely big room, lots of toys and space to move around in. The only thing to dampen the mood was a particularly nasty little 3 year old boy that thought it would be fun to run into Emily on his scooter, twice, knocking her over both times. She cried the first time but luckily the second time didn't seem too bothered. 

I am not massively overprotective of my daughter, however it did upset me when I saw this happening and particularly as his mother wasn't even paying attention to him at the time. Now I know that as mothers we are expected to have eyes in the backs of our head and various other places and it is hard to continually watch your child but for her to allow this to happen to someone else child, twice, is just careless on her part. It would seem that Emily was not the only child he chose to terroise, as he was moving about the room knocking into various children and throwing things around. 

I had to tell him the second time to leave her alone as his mother clearly wasn't going to. He gave me such a look! Damian and the omen springs to mind! 

I have never really been a huge fan of other peoples children, however I have mellowed a lot since having Emily. Her little friend Louie is adorable! And there were definitely some very lovely children at this group, who enjoyed playing nicely. So I guess I shouldn't let one little boy ruin everything, and I must also remember that a child does not understand right from wrong and that it is our job, as parents, to show them. So maybe I'll be having a word with her next time, not just her son.

He did fall over on his way back to his mother and myself and Theresa couldn't help but smile. Bad, bad, bad woman that we are! Ha, ha, ha. 

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

It's a hard life...

I'm sitting her listening to music on a beautiful summers day, the sun is streaming in the window and keeping me warm as I lie on the bed. In lieu of a garden this is where I like to sit and enjoy the sunshine plus it's better for my suncream required! I have a rare few hours of child-free time, whilst Emily spends the afternoon with her grandparents. 

In these moments of peace I have time to rejuvenate and idly pass the time like I once used to. I could be downstairs hoovering the hall or doing the washing up but I honestly can't be bothered today.  It struck me, what did I do with all my time before Emily? I must have had an abundance of moments like these, when I wasn't working? How did I fill those moments? Now I can barely remember last week, let alone what my life was like BM (before Motherhood). 

Now all I want to do when I am alone is sleep so I have enough energy to continue to do what I need to do. Although being honest I have always been a fan of sleep, give me a big comfy bed and I will gladly crawl into it, snuggle down and drift off. It's just now the need is so much more now than it ever was before.

The problem with being a parent is that you spend the first year or so not being able to sleep because your little one is keeping you up half the night and the moment you finally master the art of getting them to sleep through you can't sleep yourself. You spend ridiculous amounts of time trying to get off to sleep and once asleep you keep waking every few hours wondering why they haven't woke up?! Arrgghhh!!!

All this talk of sleep in making me tired so I think I might have to indulge in a little nap now.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

And in your future I see...

I have been contemplating my future and in specific my career. As I mentioned in my last blog entry I had an appointment with the College Course Advisor which went relatively well. She has suggested that I apply for the Access Course and having had more time to think, I am in agreement. I have seriously been considering Midwifery and so an Access Course would allow me to get the relevant qualifications that I needed to apply. 

My family and friends have all been very supportive of my chosen path. However why do people feel the need to prepare me for what lies ahead by informing me of some of the duties performed by midwives. Ahem! Excuse me but I had a baby just over 13 months ago, I am quite aware of many of the duties involved in being a midwife seeing as I was the one being monitored by a midwife for 9 months! It's not like I have just announced that I want to become a lawyer or a lion tamer. Both challenging careers of which I have no prior experience. I have always been an upstanding citizen and the closest I have ever come to a lion was at Chester Zoo! 

"You are aware that there will be blood and babies involved" my friend Sarah commented on Facebook, this actually made me laugh considerably. And there was me thinking that I just signed a little piece of paper when the stalk dropped the baby off at the maternity ward. I know that Sarah was not being at all serious so I won't hold that against her. Gavin's comments were of a similar vein "You will have to give injections and help women give birth", no really I hadn't realised seeing as they took enough blood from me during pregnancy to supply half of Africa with transfusions and Gavin that was me pushing Emily out that April morning remember. I know you'd been awake for 24 hours but you do recall me being present at the time right?! 

All joking aside I am well aware that the path I have chosen is a tough and arduous one with many years of blood, sweat and tears ahead of me. And well lets be honest you have to want to work in nursing or midwifery because no-one does it for the money do they?! But I know what I have to do, I know the sacrifices I will have to make. My active social life, my regular binge drinking sessions, my weekly shopping trips trips to Selfridges...oh no wait that's not 'MY LIFE'! So it would seem that seeing as all I normally do of an evening is cook the tea and watch Eastenders that a few sacrifices can be made. Afterall we have Sky+ and it would be nice to have my tea cooked for me once in a while. 

Thursday, 3 June 2010

You are damned if you do and you are damned if you don't...

Until March last year I was a full-time student housing officer at a small London University. Housing wasn't something I dreamed of working in as a small child rather, as is quite often the case with many people, was something I fell into after spending 3 years working in Youth Hostels in various roles from chef to bedmaker. 

So now Emily is 13 months old it occurred to me that it may be time to start thinking about what to do next. Is it time for a change I hear you say? Well that's exactly what I was thinking. About a week ago I started to seriously consider my options and being seriously unqualified in anything particularly useful (damn you BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts, you were fun, but not much use to me now), it began to dawn on me that I may need to go back to the drawing board or in my case the whiteboard. In laymans terms, College. But what to study?

Considering various options I decided on the possibility of a childcare course at my local College. So I emailed the admissions tutor, completed an application and waited to hear back. I didn't have to wait too long! She phoned me yesterday to discuss my options and suggested, due to my maturing age, that I might be more suited to an Access Course. But access to what? So here is where the dilemma begins. 

A childcare qualification would give me the tools I require to go straight into work once I had completed the course. However I would have to study full-time over two years, which means finding money for childcare for my child. Option two, take the Access course which could be completed part-time over two years without the need for childcare but at the end be qualified for nothing more than moving onto Higher Education, which is not something I am sure I am interested in partaking in. So what to do?

I have considered the option of higher education, possibly training to be a midwife. However this course would mean a further 3 years study, full-time which would mean I am faced, once again, with finding suitable childcare and the money to pay for it. Add to that University fees, a new car to allow me to travel to University and it all starts to get very expensive! Looking at the support available to students, unfortunately due to the fact that Gavin earns a decent amount of money means we probably wouldn't qualify for much, if anything. And yes my partner does earn a decent amount but we have a mortgage and bills and all manner of other financial outgoings that adds up to not a lot of spare cash left over. All I want to do is go back to work! The words rock and hard place spring to mind! 

So I am hoping for some inspiration as to what the solution may be, failing that a miracle would do. For now though I will have to settle for a meeting with the College's adult education tutor who I hope has a better idea of what I want to do then I now do because with all this deliberating and consideration of options I now don't have the foggiest idea!  

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Division of labour

A male friend of mine recently commented on his facebook status that he was currently 'doing the ironing' to which he was inundated with responses, particularly from his male peers chastising him for this confession. Comments in regards to his manhood, or lack of it, comments in relation to thumbs and being under them. In fact all manner of derogatory terms were fired at him. For what, admitting that sometimes he likes to make life a little easier for his partner and help with some of the domestic chores? Which leads me onto the question, why in this 21st century world are household tasks still seen as 'women's work'?

I am solely responsible for all housework in our home, unless I can twist Gavin's arm when it comes to the washing up. And he will, on occasion, like he did last night, offer to do it without any persuasion. However all other tasks from the unrelenting piles of washing to the never ending round of hoovering falls firmly in my camp.

I have had many conversations with him regarding this situation. You know the universal conversation that normally starts on a Saturday morning when you are completely knackered from the weeks events. You come down to find that yet again the house is a mess and you feel like you might be in danger of drowning in a sea of housework. So you turn to your loving partner for support and are met with a barrage of excuses as to why they couldn't possibly drag themselves away from 'Soccer Am' to help you tidy up. At this you find your temper starting to rise and you wonder once again, for the hundredth time this year, why it always falls to you?

I admit that I am currently unemployed, so not contributing to the household income and I do realise, having formerly worked, that the task of going to work all day is a tiring one and that the last thing you feel like doing once you walk through the door is starting yet more work, housework or otherwise. However I myself, am full-time childminder to our 13 month little girl and this job is by no means easy! So where do the lines get drawn when it comes to what is fair and expected and what is just going above and beyond? 

Do we assume certain roles from a very young age? Or do we, as parents, shape young minds into thinking that when it comes to housework woman must do everything whilst men can do nothing? We have come on somewhat in comprasion to previous generations, at least now our menfolk will occassionally don the rubber gloves and tackle the Kilimanjaro of washing up in the sink. A recent radio interviewee, whose name escapes me at the moment, commented on the fact that his dad thought he was being helpful if he closed a cupboard door! However we are still, in some households (mine included), a long way from equality for all when it comes to the household chores!

So who is to blame? Well that's the tricky part really isn't it, because personally I think we, woman kind, are to blame for this mess we now find ourselves in. Mothers to be exact! We women raise our sons and it would seem are sending them out into the world ill prepared for the task of taking care of a house. So I finish with a plea to all mothers and mothers to be, teach your children this, (and in particular your sons) how to turn on a hoover, what the strange dials on the washing machine really do, the importance of emptying the bin when it is in danger of spilling onto the floor and most importantly that we are all equal in creation and that includes doing the housework!!!

P.S To my friend, the ironer, I say 'bravo' and keep up the good work! You are a rare breed and a better person than I am. The fact that you actually bother to iron when I can neither find the time nor the inclination is an inspiration!

Monday, 31 May 2010

Post pregnancy body!

Having recently been for a proper bra fitting, my first in many years and extremely necessary in my post pregnancy, post breastfeeding state. I discovered that I have gone from a 34C to 32D and that support and uplift is so much more important now than it ever was before.

Not that I was ever that enamored with my breast before I had Emily but they have since, for me, lost any luster that they may have had before. As the kindly, sensitive, lady in Debenhams commented "Yes they have lost some of their elasticity haven't they". Cheers, thanks!!! 

I know I am one of the lucky few that has come through pregnancy relatively unscathed, I have barely any stretch marks - three to be exact  - just above my left hip and hardly noticeable now they have faded. 

I was also fortunate enough to loose all my baby weight within about 5 months of Emily's birth. In fact I went a little too far the other way after she was born, losing so much weight that friends and family started to express concerns about my eating habits. To which I replied, 'I eat most days, in fact just this evening I managed half a plate between cries'. I think it is easy to forget how time consuming babies are and how they have impeccable timing when it comes to their demands, i.e. they will wait until you have just sat down to eat your tea before they decide that actually they need feeding or changing or rocking etc... Then congealed pasta doesn't have the same appetising appeal as it did when it was hot.

The doctor was very kind when she weighed me and just explained that I would be well advised not to lose any more weight. It's not like I was trying or anything! However I have since put at least half a stone back on and am back to my old self...well mostly. 

So it wasn't the weight that was a problem for me so much as that last little wobbly bit, the bit that stretched the most! And although it has now gone my belly button will never look quite the same again! But I can live with that. And as for the breasts, well that's what Gossard Ultra bra's are for!!     

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Whose the dummy now then?

Dummies! The bane of my very existence! 

I am currently on night two of operation 'pacifier prohibition'. Having threatened on many occasions to take away my daughters dummy and not having had the backbone to follow through, I finally decided last night that it was time that the dummy became a distance memory. 

Emily is not massively dependent on her dummy, she has it for naps and for bedtime but that is about it. However she is currently suffering from a cold which means that breathing through her mouth is the only option, so this become problematic when the mouth is full of dummy. After repeated trips upstairs last night, at 10 minute intervals, I finally removed her dummy from the cot and proceeded to attempt to get her off to sleep without it. 'What are you crazy?' I hear you cry. Well yes quite possibly, driven insane by repeatedly climbing the stairs to place said dummy in my daughters mouth! 

My initial attempt was successful and she slept peacefully for about an hour but then the baby monitor lit up and this was to be the beginning of one of the most horrific nights we have had since she was born. Heartbreaking sobs, racked with grief at her lost source of comfort. Hours of struggling and wriggling around next to me, Gavin having abandoned our bed hours before in a vain attempt to get some sleep. God I wish I had to go to work! I finally managed to get her off to sleep at 2.30am for her to wake up 4 hours later! 

Tonight she went down with little fuss, having drunk her milk I cuddled her for a little while and she fell asleep and so far that is how she has remained. So...All I can say is watch this space to see if operation 'PP' is successful. And trust me when I say I am praying to all my gods that it is because I need some sleep!


Thursday, 6 May 2010

Today I had a thought, what if...

...what if I had never met you?

When I was 6 ½ weeks pregnant with Emily I started to bleed. I remember having this awful sense of foreboding as I made my way to work that morning. This word kept echoing around my mind, 'miscarriage'.

An hour or two later I sat at my desk and I felt this rush of blood leave my body, and all I could think was 'please no, not me, not my baby'. It's a funny thing, I had only known about the pregnancy for about a week and a half but it had already become a part of my being. Everything had changed and the thought that it could be taken away from me was more than I could bear! 

I was taken to hospital in an ambulance and asked to wait in a private room while they decided what to do with me. They asked me to give them a urine sample to check that I was definietly pregnant and I remember the sample was red with my blood. The nurse gave me a sympathic smile as she took the sample from me and I wanted to scream! I sat on a cold bed with my hospital gown barely covering my modesty and I felt so small and lost. 

Finally they took me to the early pregnancy unit for a scan. And there on the screen was my baby, this tiny being with a little heart beating away. So small. I looked at the screen and made a silent plea, please little baby, please little one, hold on don't give up on me. 

And she did! 

But today I had some really sad news concerning a very dear friend of mine and it got me to thinking 'what if...what if I had never met you Emily?' And at this point words fail me.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

And the award goes to...

My daughter turned one today and it occurred to me that's a whole year that I have survived as a parent or more importantly she has just simply survived! Babies don't come with a manual...unfortunately. Although where would you even start with one of those, babies are slightly more complicated than a Ford fiesta or a DVD player. And they would definitely give flat pack furniture a run for it's money when it comes to confusing and complex instructions!

And what would happen when your baby started to malfunction, "But darling it says in the manual feed every three hours from newborn, she can't possibly be hungry again it's only been an hour and a half"? "Well we could try returning her sweetheart but I think I've lost the receipt". Erm...I think not! That's the lovely thing about babies of relatives, friends, work colleagues etc...You can hand them back when they get sleepy, grumpy, hungry, sick and you are never expected to change a dirty nappy, well okay maybe a wet one but never a poo-ie one. I wonder how many dirty nappies I have changed in the last year? Gavin seems to have developed an allergy to them, shame I didn't think of that first. Damn!

So never mind all these election promises the politicians are making about the economy, the war, the state of schools or hospitals or crime...blah, blah, blah. If you want people to vote for you then offer proper incentives, like medals and awards for surviving as a parent in this 21st century world where we have health and safety coming out of our ears until they bleed, where every single unmarried man is a potential pedophile (PLEASE!!! Talk about mass hysteria) and a social services system that will allow children to die in horrifically awful circumstances, beaten and starving but will take your child off you for being overweight! (And I know my mother would berate me for the last statement but I don't care!). I think at the very least a day at a free spa wouldn't go a miss, because after 52 weeks of dirty washing that would put a laundrette to shame, 365 nights of disrupted sleep and 8, 760 hours of cleaning, washing, feeding, sterilising, changing, rocking, singing and crying (me and Emily) I could really do with a facial, sauna and a back massage!       

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Many happy returns...

This time last year I was on my way to Macclesfield Hospital. 

Emily was meant to be born at North Staffs, however the night I went into hospital they had closed the maternity ward, all beds were full. No room at the inn! So we traveled across the boarder to take refuse at the only place that could have me. 

You assume that once you get to the hospital things will start to move quicker, this is just a fallacy that first time mums harbour in the vain, disillusioned hope that their experience will be different from all the women that have come before them. The majority of first time labours will be long and arduous. Mine was 25 hours from start to finish and I know most Health Care Professional will tell you that there are only so many hours of 'active labour' and before that you are not technically 'in labour' but I don't care, it's all the same to me and it still hurts like hell!

Once I got to the hospital I was told that I was only 3/4cm dilated which meant I still had a long way to go. I was bouncing my arse off on the pilates ball in a vain attempt to speed up the process. Imagine the scene, balanced on a pilates ball, nine months pregnant, bouncing up and down whilst contracting every 4 minutes, not one of my better moments. 

The drugs are good though. I had one shot of diamorphine which sent me into a really spaced out state, where I could still feel the pain but I just didn't care enough to be bothered anymore. Funny! The Gas and Air will probably make you sick, it did me (I can't look at banana's and lucozade with the same affection anymore) but when it's a toss up between a little sickness and excruciating pain then it's a simple choice really! 

She finally came into the world at 6.50am on the 22nd April 2009, after a few tears and a whole lot of pushing. And a year on...I still do a double take when someone refers to me as Emily's mum. Me a mum? Who would have thought it?!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

To buy or not to buy...

I spent two hours the other night trying to decide on a new pushchair/buggy for Emily, two hours!!! Because the process is not as simple or straight forward as you would think. 

Her first pram was chosen by my mother and her bestfriend as at 8 months pregnant I was in no mood or my right mind to make a decision like that (I was suffering from a serious case of baby-brain), I could barely decide what to put on my toast of a morning let alone make a decision as important as the mode of transport for my unborn child. 

So this time around I wanted to make sure that it was my decision and that it was the right one. WELL...firstly you need to consider what brand you want to go with, there is Maclaren, Silvercross, Chico, Britax, Quinny and the list goes on and on. Then you need to decide a price range, colour, accessories...does it have any or are you going to have to buy them all at a later date and if so how much will that add to the cost, then there is the size to consider...will it fit into the boot of your car, how easy is it to collapse, does it have a big enough shopping basket, what are the wheels like...will they go the distance or have fallen off by the time you make it to the high street, can you alter the position of the seat so that your little one doesn't have to sleep sat bolt upright, does it have a hood? Endless questions and everytime you think you might be getting closer to choosing the right buggy for you, you notice a dodgy review and then another one and another one and you have to start the whole process off all over again. 

So you can now start to understand why it took me so long to decide. But I am happy with my final choice, Yes I am sure that I am...right?! Now let me just check the small print, it was definitely 28 days to decide with a full money back guarantee right?!

Sunday, 28 March 2010

A new olympic sport maybe...

My daughter has taken to participating in what I like to call 'cot gymnastics'. In layman's terms she has taken to sleeping in an array of weird and interesting positions. Sideways, diagonally, on her front with her little legs hanging through the bars and my favourite her head at the bottom of the cot, buried in her teddies. 

It would seem that her fidgeting and constant movement is not just contained to daylight hours. It's anyone's guess what position she will be in when I go to check on her later. If she was standing on her head it wouldn't surprise me. 

Thursday, 25 March 2010

The long and winding road...

A baby at any age is a beautiful thing to behold, each stage is a blessing full of wonderful little milestones. 

However the first 6 months with Emily were tough, she didn't start to come into her own or me into mine until after that time. Then it seemed, overnight almost, that my grouchy, windy, little lady became blissfully happy and smiley and everyday since then has been more of a joy then the one before.

Don't get me wrong, we have endured teething and illness since then and there have been a few tough nights! But it just seems that her little personality has started to shine through. She is mischevious and strong willed, with a beautifully gentle and loving nature. 

You start to get more excited with every passing day as you get small glimpses of the kind of person your little girl will become if you continue to nurture and encourage her.

Just the other day she fed herself with a spoon for the first time! Such a small inconsequential thing, you never thought it could bring such a smile to your face or warm your heart the way it does. You feel pride that you never knew was possible. And each day is filled with these small acts of progression on a long road for both of you!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Money, money, money...

I've been extremely busy recently, which is why I have not been able to devote as much time to my blog as I would have liked. We have moved house and the last three weeks have be spent involved in much sorting, packing, cleaning and then unpacking, re-sorting and more cleaning and then just a little more cleaning to go with all the rest!

It occurred to me, whist packing, that there are definitely two types of people in this world. The hoarders and the liberators. I am a liberator, Gavin is a hoarder and so is Emily by default of course. So I have spent the majority of the last few weeks sorting and packing items that don't belong to me. In fact I would go so far as to say that only 1/5 of all the items that made it to the new house were mine.

Which brings me onto the subject of why babies need so much. As a prospective first time parent, you throw yourself into the act of buying every available item that you and your baby could ever need. You soon learn that you only need about half of the items you have bought but trust me that enough!

I never realised that such a small person would need so much, I mean people tried to warn me, but I never appreciated what they meant until Emily came along. prams and cots, moses baskets and car seats, baby baths and sterilisers, bibs and sleep suits and vest and the list goes on and on and on.

A simple trip to the shops becomes like a military maneuver, have we got a change of clothes, nappies, wipes, the dummy, etc... And going away, forget it, it's just not worth it. Beside by the time you have packed up the car with all the belongings you need to look after the baby there will be no room left for your things anyway. I took Emily to London for 3 nights when she was 3 months old, the back of my mums car was rammed full, you could barely see out the back. And she owns a people carrier!!!

And the money you spend will very soon run into the thousands. Add up the cost of all those nappies and babies wipes combined with the fact that your new baby will need new clothes every 3 months and you can start to understand why parents walk around in clothes that went out of fashion 3 years ago. So what is the consolation? At least you won't have to buy anything for the next time you temporarily lose your sanity and utter those 5 words. 'Should we have another baby?'.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

You complete me...

I have always been taught to respect others beliefs, even if they do not align with my own. So long as you are not breaking the law or abusing others, then live and let live. So if a person or couple chooses not to have children that is their choice. My choice was always different though.

I always felt like something was missing in my life, that I hadn't found my purpose. But when I look at my daughter I can see that this is what I was meant to do. Be a mother. It's not perfect, like a film or a novel where you have a happy ending and everyone lives happily ever after. It's real and it's hard and I make mistakes, sometimes I cry and I'm so tired that I can barely remember my own name but it's what I'm happiest doing. It makes me feel complete and maybe that makes me a very simple person but maybe that's always been my problem. I have a tenancy to over think and over complicate, it runs in the family. Maybe simple in best for me.

Motherhood has made me realise that I can love in a way I never thought possible before. So unconditionally and so completely. When you have a child, you love them more than you love yourself, more than you have ever loved anyone, sometimes you love them more than life itself. And this love is scary and unknown and you feel that it will overwhelm you but you can't fight it. When you child smiles or laughs you feel like you heart will overrun with love and when they cry it's like your heart is breaking.

So now everyday I put someone else first, and I think about their needs before mine and it's liberating. And now I finally understand what life is all about, for me at least.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

That I would be loved...

One of my favourite songs is Alanis Morissettes 'That I would be good'.

The lyrics have always spoken to me at different points in my life for different reasons.

I realised tonight, whilst settling Emily for bed, that all she really wants is love. Recently she has started to understand the concept of love more (in her limited child-like way). She reaches out so she can be held, she offers you kisses and cuddles without having to be coerced. And this morning she stroked mummy's head because I think she understands that this is a sign of affection, this is what mummy does to help her get to sleep. With her ever growing confidence and blossoming personality comes a strong love and affection for the people around her that are special and important in her life.

To be loved is one of the most precious things that life can provide and the fact that my daughter is starting to understand this already just makes me love her more!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth...yeah right!!!

My daughter is teething at the moment...these are the times I will have to forget in order to even consider having more children.

It is a hellish experience for all of us. Not one of us has slept properly in the last two weeks and my lovely smiley little girl has been replaced by a sad, miserable little lady.

As a parent you spend most of your time trying desperately to protect your little ones from anything that may harm or hurt them, so it is heartbreaking to watch your child go through this horrific experience, knowing there is little that you can do to help!

Her little cheeks are blazing red, her nose running, her bum sore and her temperature is sky high. She is so sleepy but she can't get comfortable enough to sleep. 'Calpol' is the only assistance we have in this seemly endless battle.

Who would have thought that teeth could cause all these problems! All we can hope for is the speedy appearance of the teeth that are causing her so much grief and then maybe we will have a small rest-bite period before it starts all over again.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Never count your chickens...

I am here to talk about that elusive subject of sleep, once again!

Having this week experienced some of the most disruptive snooze time since the newborn days, I can say with all certainty that where babies are concerned you should never 'count your chickens'.

Just when you think that finally, after nine months of sleep deprivation, your little one has started to sleep through, something will come along to disrupt the whole thing and you feel like you are right back at the beginning.

Emily has been suffering with a terrible cold and it has wreaked havoc on our new established routine. There have been nights where she was falling asleep at 5pm and we would finally put her to bed at 6pm only for her to be awake again an hour and a half later. There were the nights when we couldn't get her down until 10pm and my all time favourite, the nights where she would wake at 1am and I would struggle to get her back to sleep before 5am. Needless to say I was a wreck by yesterday! Having had something of a small breakdown at 3am Thursday morning my wonderful partner decided to take it upon himself to get up this morning and look after our little one so I could get some extra snooze time. Bless him, he didn't realise that would mean rising at 6am. By the time I came down at 9.30am he looked like he was ready for bed again.

She seems to be over the worse of the cold now, although I fear another tooth may be emerging so we could be in for another bumpy ride tonight. For now though she is asleep and I am hoping that it last just long enough for me to watch the live episode of Eastenders tonight. It's the small pleasures you know!

Monday, 15 February 2010

A baby is an angel whose wings decrease as his legs increase...

Gavin and I spent months willing Emily to crawl, waiting with baited breath for the moment she would reach that next milestone of development. What were we thinking?!!!

Within the space of six weeks my daughter has learnt to crawl, pull herself to standing, sit down and cruise the furniture. Nothing is safe or sacred anymore!

Babies have the innate ability to hone in on the most dangerous or expensive items available to them. Toys do not hold their interest anymore. They want to put their fingers in plug sockets, pull DVD's off the shelves, smash their little hands into picture frames, chuck mobile phones and TV remote controls across the room after they have bashed them a few dozen times into the coffee table first, of course. I spend all my days running around after her, continually repeating 'no Emily, do not touch that'. These pleas fall on deaf ears, she just throws me a cheeky grin and proceeds in her attempt to stuff the aerial cable in her mouth. She won't sit still for any longer than about 2 seconds and her daddy jokes that she has only two settings, on and off!

From the moment that she wakes until it is time to go back to bed she is constantly crawling and climbing. Her little eyes scanning the room, looking for treasures that she can explore. You have to be quick, you have to think on your feet, be forever anticipating her next move. You build towering fortresses around your precious items in a lame attempt to protect them. Everything of any value is piled high on the only available surface that is out of her reach. Ikea living just wouldn't work with a baby, you don't do 'low down'.

All in all I am totally exhausted, nothing new there though. All I can say is thank goodness we no longer have a VCR player. Although I can't say the same for all the inviting buttons on the sky box, oh well when was I going to get time to watch last nights episode of 'Glee' anyway!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Emily and her daddy...

What can I say about Gavin, my partner? He is a man of few words when the football's on and many when it's not!

We go way back, about 14 years to be exact. For one summer, the summer of '96, we moved in the same social circles. These chance encounters would be how and why we ended up together 14 years later. When I moved to London I felt a little out on a limb. A girl lost in a big city. And a very kind mutual friend invited me out to dinner and Gavin was there. After that night we got talking and arranged a second meeting but with just the two of us. It was never meant to be a date but that was just how it worked out. That night I made the decision to stay in London, I had been considering the option of packing up and leaving but that night, because of Gavin, I fell in love with the city. Not long after that night I fell in love with Gavin too.

His kindness and his courage are some of the things I love. He rarely complains when I am at my most difficult and he loves me inspite of all my neuroses! I know that friends and family see my strength and my courage but Gavin see my vulnerability and my insecurities and he understands that these are all a part of who I am. You take the good with the bad in any relationship and it works both ways. I never claimed to be perfect but neither did he.

I know that he thinks that I wonder whether he stayed with me out of responsibility and I would be lying if I said that the thought hadn't crossed my mind on occasion. However our own insecurities will always plague us and threaten to destroy what we have! The truth is that he loves me and Emily and he stays because he wants to be here.

He is a wonderful father, encouraging and engaging. He adores Emily and she him. In fact you only have to reflect on what her first and favourite word is to know this fact. Da da!!! All day every day, Da, da, da, da!

Friday, 12 February 2010

The value of a man resides in what he gives...

Traveling when pregnant can sometimes be a chore. In fact any movement in the later stages of pregnancy is a huge accomplishment. You can waddle back and forth (and trust me you will waddle) but you get tired just climbing the stairs. So imagine having to travel across London every day when you are 7/8 months pregnant! Will the silly lady in the corner please stand up!

As I previously mentioned I was living in London when I fell pregnant and that meant an horrendous daily jaunt across London to get from my flat in the the NE to my job in the SW. 3 hours a day spent moving from bus to train to tube to train will ensure that you end up with ankles four times their normal size!

So what did I learn from my experiences, apart from the fact that you should never drink a large de-caff latte just before you board a train with no toilet, I learnt that there are four types of fellow travelers.

Type 1: The gracious traveler
These lovely types (mostly woman in my experience) will immediately move or offer their seat to you. They will do this without the need for a great show or making you feel like it is an inconvenience to them. They will simply smile and point to the now empty seat. You are extremely grateful to them.

Type 2: The reluctant traveler
These people will begrudgingly give up there seat, but only after about 5 minutes of watching you stand, gripping on for dear life as the train hurtles from stop to stop. These types will huff and puff as they make a grand gesture of moving to allow the pregnant woman to sit down. 'Look at me fellow commuters, look at how gracious I am giving up my seat for this woman. You should all be ashamed making her stand' Never mind the fact that you yourself just made me stand for the last 5 minutes!

Type 3: The distracted traveler
This is the traveler that avoids eye contact at all cost, they are not giving up their seat without a fight and even though they clocked you getting on at Waterloo they will feign interest in anything but you, just to avoid having to move. My boyfriend delighted in telling these types to move, especially when they happened to be in the priority seat. They would look all shocked and surprised as if to say 'my goodness I was so caught up in this article about the increasing price of fish that I didn't even notice the lady stood right in front of me, her bump practically touching my nose'. Personal space goes out the window when you are traveling in London, I have been closer to some people on the tube then I would consider decent in the first few months of a new relationship!

Type 4: The selfish traveler...that is surely going to the bad place when they leave this mortal coil!
These last types are the worst of the worst, they are the people that will push past you to get the last available seat. 'Never mind that her need is obviously greater than mine, I am getting that seat. If I have to move heaven and earth and flatten a pregnant woman in the process'. And yes these types, although rare, really do exist.

Please don't get me wrong, I never assumed for a moment that I should be entitled to a seat just because I was with child. However common decency should suggest that you sacrifice your own comfort for the comfort of those that are less able then you. I know I always have done and besides what is the point in living if we don't raise our heads every now and then to take a look around. Let the world in and for goodness sake just give up your bl**dy seat, don't be so obtuse!!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

With a little help from my friends...

I remember reading an article about how motherhood will change the dynamics of your closest relationships, in particular your friendships. It categorised your friends into different types but there were three that stood out to me, because I could put names to those types.

The friend that has already got children, been through it all before you and knows the score! This would be my friend Debbie, we have been friends since we were 15 and she has a beautiful 10 year old daughter Michelle. Debbie has experienced the highs and lows of motherhood and is more than willing to share her experiences and advice. She is the type of friend that provides the re-assurance that you need, the assurance that you are doing a great job and she has the understanding that only comes from personal experience. She delights in spending time with my daughter knowing that she can hand her back and go home! That she no longer has to struggle through those endless sleepless nights that seem to fill the first few years of your child's life. But remember Debs, Michelle is on the verge of adolescence, her teenage years are looming and new challenges await you. And I will want to know, in great detail, how you dealt with it all in 'ohhh' about 13 years time!

The friend that is experiencing what you are experiencing, sleepless night for sleepless night, nappy for nappy, dirty bib for dirty bib. The new mum.
That would be my new friend, Theresa. We met at Ante-natal classes, brought together by our impending motherhood and our visibly huge bumps. Although there were many mums at that group she stood out as one that I would like to be-friend. And so when I bumped into her a few weeks after her son was born I took the opportunity to arrange a 'new mothers' meeting. We have since formed (what I would like to think is) a strong friendship based on our mutual inexperience. We share all the latest new mum gossip and never bore each other with the minute details of what each others child has discovered or learnt. I am so grateful for her friendship, as I don't know how I would have survived the last 9 months without it. I know that she will always understand when I yawn, that she will never roll her eyes when Emily cries and that she will completely and without hesitation sympathise with every single insecurity I have no matter how small or insignificant it might seem to others.

The friend that has not yet had children herself but falls as instantly in love with your child as you. Last but by no means least is my lovely friend Sarah. Sarah and I met 5 years ago in my child free days when we both worked at Nottingham University. We were united in our mutual love of shoes, shopping and Frankie and Bennys. Our friendship grew into something special and has remained through her leaving the University, me leaving Nottingham and now the birth of my first child. We have shared many secrets and tears, wine fueled nights of fun and the invariable hangovers that follow, various relationship break ups (mine and hers) and whenever possible the odd shopping trip, well okay quite a few shopping trips! Sarah will openly admit that she has never been the biggest admirer of either animals or children but a change has come over her lately, not only does she now have a cat!!! She has also fallen head over heels in love with my beautiful daughter and has even broached the subject of children of her own! And if you knew Sarah like I do, you would realise just how monumental this is, especially the pet cat!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

These quiet moments make my day, we must never let them slip away...

My days are so full that I rarely have time to stop and think. Quiet moments are few and far between and with the ever increasing activities of my daughter they are becoming rarer and rarer.

However there is a time of day that I cherish, it is my favourite time. Bedtime. And not for the reasons that you may think.

For a few minutes every evening, once my daughter is changed and ready for bed and her bottle is cooling. I sit with her on my knee, her head snuggled into my chest and rest. Planting little kisses on the top of her beautiful head I take in her wonderful baby smell and enjoy the time we have together. She is so active now, that during the day cuddles have become a thing of the past. She doesn't want to sit on mummy's knee, she wants to crawl and climb and explore. But just for these few minutes every evening she will indulge me, too tired to fight or frantically struggle for freedom.

She contently sits, grasping for my hand, her little fingers entwined with mine and we are at peace with each other.
These are the moments that I live for, among all the excitement of new discoveries and watching her grow and change, tied into all the tears and tiredness are these wonderfully quiet moments and they are perfect in their simplicity.

The belly rules the mind...

Feeding a baby will take up the majority of your day, whether they are newborn or weaned!

Emily currently consumes three meals and three bottle a day. That makes for a whole lot of shopping, preparing, cooking, washing and sterilising. Plus you have all the pressure of trying to create a varied and healthy array of culinary delights for your little one.

There are two schools of thought on weaning, parent lead and baby lead. Parent lead means that you prepare meals and will spoon feed them to your little one. Baby led means you
allow the baby to feed themselves and they decide how much they do or don't eat. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages. I have opted for a nice combination of both. Some of Emily's meals are spoon fed to her and some I allow her to wade into fingers at the ready.

Baby lead is by far the messier of the two options, but it's great for the baby because they get to experience lots of different textures with their fingers. Apparently it can also make for less fussy eaters later in life. Although I don't know if this theory has been proved sufficiently. I love to watch Emily feeding herself, so try as much as possible to prepare meals where this is possible, crumpets, toast, fruit, cheese, baby rice cakes, pasta shapes, roast potatoes and chunks of meat (chicken, turkey, lamb etc...) and other such finger foods. However there are times when I am making something for myself that I know she will enjoy so I mash it all up and spoon feed it to her, potato with cheese and beans, Sweet potato with some cream cheese, wetabix or porridge with banana, noodles with cheese or veggies, mashed up carrots, parsnips and broccoli. And I am yet to find a baby that could eat yoghurt without the need for a spoon but if you know of any please send pictures or videos that would be hilarious!

I think you have to find your own way and your baby will let you know when they don't like something, normally by refusing to eat it or throwing it around the room! Best advice is try it, if you like it they might. Just avoid too much sugar and salt, as they are not baby friendly.

I am extremely lucky because there isn't much that Emily won't eat, she is definitely a big foodie like her daddy :)

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Better to remain silent...

...and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

There are certain things that you should never say to a pregnant woman, here are a few of the worst. Learn them, know them, never say them or fear the wrath of the one with child!

Wow you are massive: No pregnant woman ever wants to hear this, no matter how true it may be. Of course we are massively, enormously huge...we are carrying a our belly!! 

Was it planned? Firstly mind your own business and secondly what does it matter, it is wanted and loved and that's the most important thing. 

Will you be getting married (only applies if you are not already married, obviously). We may, we may not but what does that have to do with having a baby? We are not living in the 1950's you know.

Are you sure you should be eating that second bacon sandwich, you will only regret it later when you are trying to lose your baby weight? Do you have any idea what I have given up for this baby already? No drinking, no smoking, no caffine, no soft cheese, smoked salmon or smoke meat, in fact pretty much all my of my favourite foods. Pi*s off and stop raining on the only pleasure I have left, beside haven't you heard the phrase eating for two?!

It could be twins you know, it happened on 'Friends', the scans might be wrong the other one might have been hiding. Hey maybe it's triplets, ha, ha, ha. 
 Are you serious?! Why are saying this to me? What is wrong with you, do you hate me or something? Listen the thought of pushing out one baby is scary enough, why are talking about the possibility of more than one?!
(Turns to phone and makes a quick call to her midwife) "Do you think I could get another scan, just as a precaution, no, but you are absolutely sure that there is only one baby in there, right?"

Just some of the little beauties that I had to endure.