When I Grow Up

When I was a little girl I had a dream for my life. Where others wanted to be Doctors, Astronauts, Entrepreneurs… I wanted to be a mother. To so many it seemed so mundain, what a boring choice. Of course I had other aspirations, but growing up I’d always been so maternal. I begged my parents to have another child and couldn’t wait until the day I’d have my own.
I fell in love with my dream man, we got engaged, had our first baby and then married – the modern way!
I thought conception would be so easy. I was still young, healthy and fertility would be no issue. But after 9 excrutiatingly long months Tiny One was conceived and 39 weeks, 2 days later there she was.
So life carries on, baby grows and parenting becomes easier and after a little while we knew we were ready for Baby 2.
It seemed like a bigger decision in a way because our little Tiny One was and remains the apple of our eye. Spoiled, loved more than all others – how could we do such a thing to her? Maybe she’ll be jealous, maybe she’ll be okay. But silly worries subsided and the pull of maternal love grabs at me once more.
Lets just see what happens. The famous last words, and amazingly for us, straight away it happens.
Two little blue lines. One little baby.
The joy of growing a new life is worth so much. Overwhelming happiness consumes every bone in my body as my little family is growing and life is almost complete.
The worry of pregnancy sets in quickly. The post-pregnancy-test bliss has faded, why am I not experiencing any symptoms? At 6 weeks it hits me like a tonne of bricks. I was one of the unlucky few with severe pregnancy sickness. Those who have it so bad it has a really long unpronounceable name.
A bunch of trips to the hospital, handfuls of drugs, several injections and even being admitted and after a few weeks I was feeling better.
Bloody hell, I’d forgotten how hard pregnancy was. Dragging yourself around and trying to look after a toddler whilst your body is literally killing itself is exhausting.
But as I said after a few weeks I was on the mend and a few weeks later I nearing the joy of the second trimester.
I couldn’t wait for the 12 weeks scan, that time when you feel safe to finally announce to the world that, woohoo, we are having another baby! My head spun with clever and witty pregnancy announcements. Maybe we’d have Tiny One in a big sister t-shirt? I’ll use my professional camera, take a lovely picture. I wonder how many people will congratulate us. I can’t wait to tell so and so.
Nothing can prepare you for miscarriage.
On the morning of the scan, I started bleeding. At 11 o’clock the sonographer tucked the paper towel into my jeans, put the cold jelly on my stomach and the screen produced a black and white image of our unmoving child. Our worst fears were confirmed.
We had lost our baby.

17966041_1911565859057648_705281186070373854_o(Photo: 11 weeks pregnant. So full of joy for the future. A memory I can hold, forever.)

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It’s not what it looks like..

I spend an unreasonable amount of time on my laptop with 2 businesses and one part-time job. I also spend a lot of this time on Facebook. I have to advertise, post, create events etc, it’s about 10% of what I do. I’ll often find myself scrolling through Facebook, as most of us do, checking the news feed I checked only an hour before, and not really looking for anything.

You see another mother doing sensory play at home, again with her baby younger than yours and feel guilty as you sit watching the same episode of the Twirlywoos for the 14th time this week. Another baby being pushed in a swing, taken to National Trust locations. One mummy seems to be able to juggle 3 children, a business, the school run, 7 after school activities, host a coffee morning and even have time to bake the cakes too.

Someone you went to school with is travelling the world, becoming cultured and experiencing all the things you never wanted to, but you still feel jealous that its not you out there. Career women post photos of them out with work colleagues at fancy cocktail bars in dresses worth more than your TV. Another Facebook friend shows snaps of ‘All the girls’ for their weekly lunch date at that restaurant you really want to visit, but isn’t child friendly and even if you did go with your husband you wouldn’t be able to order more than a salad and tap water as you calculate the cost of the meal to tubs of formula and boxes of nappies.

I envy all of these people. I wish I had the career woman lifestyle, with my gorgeous child in tow, with my husband who took us to fancy restaurants and the regular holiday in paradise, with a business that didn’t require any effort but still afforded me success and I had all the time to take our baby to National Trust parks and the energy to do sensory play each afternoon.

But the truth is thats unrealistic. Darcy is happy to watch Twirlywoos, Bing or the Teletubbies while I catch up on some work. I don’t have all the time to do everything with her and to be the world’s craftiest, most entertaining mum but I do make her laugh and play with her for hours and if I find the time to do some sensory fun, then well done me! Holidays will have to wait, but we’ll get there in time. Daddy and I will reserve ourselves for the rare Date Night to relive our misspent youth at fancy Cocktail bars.

But more to the point. What you see is not necessarily what you get. While I envy these people, to my surprise, a lot of people have told me they are jealous of my life.

Now I won’t pretend that my existence isn’t full of happiness, but its certainly not perfect. Just remember, you can edit photos, type what you like and paint your life through rose tinted glasses on social media. No one knows what goes on behind closed doors. So before you start doubting yourself and feeling depressed with what you have… just remember. It’s not what it looks like. 

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The Importance of Being Bad

Recently I read an article about the current generation of mothers who are no longer striving to be perfect. These so called ‘perfectly imperfect’ mums are happy to do their best and cut themselves some slack. Thank fuck for those mothers. I am one of those mothers.

Anyone with kids will tell you that having children is bloody hard work. Its definitely something you take into consideration before you get pregnant, but nothing can quite prepare you for the absolute lifestyle shock.

So every now and then we need time to ourselves. Time with our partners and time to just be you. No children hanging off your trousers, watching you on the toilet or trying to stick their tiny dribble-soaked fingers in the one plug socket in the house that doesn’t have a safety cover. The truth is, that even as Mums, we need to let our hair down once in a while!

The problem is, this heart-wrenching bond you have with your child and your need to be near them. So even when you’re ready to pull your hair out, ready to give them anyway to just about anyone – why is it so hard to leave them? They will be fine without you. Your parents, sister, brother, babysitter have it covered. They know your number, the bed time schedule, how much they will need to eat and that they can’t sleep without their favourite blankie.

So what was I saying earlier? Having a baby changes you. It is a love like no other and your purpose on earth is to care for, love and protect your child. Just remember, take time for you. It took me a long time to find myself again after having Darcy. A part of me was lost and I was a stranger in my own body. But small moments, was all I had, where I felt like my own person again. Just simple things really, like a bubble bath or, reading a chapter of a book. And as I grew more confident in leaving her with family, I was able to go out. Joe and I rekindled our love over date nights at fancy restaurants, cocktails at local bars and recently watched the fireworks together and cuddled up close. I could join new friends and old, for nights out and a few drinks. I even relish in the odd cigarette. The odd shopping spree. The odd glass of whiskey.

Its so important to take some time away from your children. Even five minutes to recoup can make the world of difference! As babies they will not remember every day and every little thing you did together, so take the opportunity to feel like yourself again, and give yourself a well-deserved break. The guilt of leaving them will fade, eventually.

Now my little girl is fast asleep, its time for a hot cup of tea and a bit of Poldark. See – just the little things! 

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(Darcy is still the greatest thing that ever happened to us – even though we need a break sometimes!)

 

Tiny One

Once upon a time there was a tiny baby. She was no bigger than a doll. Tiny baby was small and new and cosy in her parents’ arms. She slept and dreamt of new things, and when she awoke love surrounded her. She was met with smiles from strangers and cuddles from her family. The world was blurry and big, but each day she saw more, knew more and felt more.

Sometimes Mummy cried, sometimes Daddy got frustrated. But tiny baby knew that with a simple smile she could make them better.

Anyone with children knows that they are hard work. Its the most challenging time you’ll ever experience but its also the most worthwhile. When I’m feeling down, I hold my daughter a little tighter, play longer and make her laugh harder.

They grow so fast, so cherish each day. I often look back fondly at the newborn stage, remember the sleep deprivation and the complete and total fear of a first baby. But I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

To my darling Darcy,  you’ll always be ‘Tiny One’ to me.

 

 

 

The Story of Us

You may or may not know I recently got married. My baby daddy and I tied the knot in a private ceremony with only our parents present and then were lucky enough to do it all again a week later for a ‘real wedding’. Both days were beautiful and although married life is really no different, I’m proud to be my husband’s wife.

So here is the Story of Us. So far…

We met in 2010 when I started work at the garden centre a few miles from where I lived. For those that aren’t so good at maths, I was 15 at the time. I was a ‘Saturday girl’ working on the tills and Joe worked in the office upstairs. He was an allusive man to me. Very reserved, tall, as thin as a rake and had an air of mystery about him that enticed me. He was five years older and with an age gap like that he seemed very out of reach. So time went by. We exchanged the odd lingering glance and he spoke only a few words to me but there was an ember of something more between us.

I was a little more than 16 when we started speaking properly. I was older than my years, more confident than I should be. We exchanged the odd text, met up a few times but my husband-to-be was a gentleman and to him I was to him a delicate flower.

So like most 16 year olds I got bored quickly. Another boy caught my eye, he was only a year older and he wanted me. We were together almost a year and through that time my affection for him faded quickly and I found myself drifting towards my former love.

By the time I was 17 we had found each other again. I’d lived, loved and lost. I was older. I was ready. I was not about to back down. We used to go out in his car, park up in a lay-by and do what you do in lay-bys in the dark. We were a modern love story, all right.

I told him I loved him. He told me he didn’t. I’d hurt him, time had gone by and he didn’t feel the same. I cried silent tears but it didn’t end there. He’d lied. He felt what I felt and was only scared of being hurt all over again by an impatient little girl who didn’t know what she wanted.

March came and we were finally together. It was even Facebook Official. (If you don’t know what that means, ask your kids). He was mine and I was his and it was perfect. We knew everything about each other, the year that we’d missed we’d made up for. We did everything together, we were inseparable. We moved in together in our own place after 5 months. We even got a couple of cats, chickens and a rabbit, we were both domesticated. We had a joint bank account and eventually a joint mortgage on our new place.

We were engaged on May 1st 2014 on holiday in Sri Lanka. At 1 o’clock in the morning,  he got down on one knee beside the bed and asked me to marry him. I said yes and we celebrated.

Our love grew from strength to strength. We have seen each other through the good and the bad times. Love changes when you have a child. It can make or break the relationship. But ours only got stronger. Something changes in both of you and men become more grateful, as women become more appreciate. Nothing can ever prepare you for seeing your man with your baby. I often say that it feels like my heart hurts, that I am so overwhelmed with love that my emotions simply cannot keep up.

Our baby arrived and life was perfect. There was only one thing missing. His last name. So we were married on the last Saturday in July 2016.

There is too many words to say about my husband. He is kind, caring, generous and everything I’ve ever wanted. He is my dream man, my best friend and my soulmate.

Joseph, I love you. 

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Self-Involved Mothering

Women never stop. Honestly, never. Mothers, when do we get five minutes to ourselves? We’re lucky if we get the odd day with friends, or lie in or a night out with hubby. These seemingly simple things have become luxuries. And even when we are out all we think about is our children! Motherhood is completely all consuming and non-parents simply DO NOT UNDERSTAND.

You know what really pisses me off? The lack of understanding and bloody cheek of people without children. Being told off by old friends for not speaking to them in weeks. Uh hello, we have a baby. Yes it’s not all we do, but its 99% of the time. They fill our heads and days completely and in the early weeks you’re lucky to remember your own name, let alone when Susan’s Birthday Party is. Its not something we choose to be, but all parents, mums especially, become extremely self-involved when they give birth. Its our natural instinct to focus life around our offspring.

Luckily we have parent friends to rely on to cut us some slack. They understand that when you say you’ll be there at 7pm, they should add at least an hour on to that time. And sometimes all you need is a day in, or a night out or someone to look after the baby when you’re ill. Sometimes you need to rant about your mother, husband, father-in-law, whoever. Or spend 15 minutes explaining the new noise your baby makes, how many times they pooed yesterday or simply boasting about what a clever angel they are.

We must all surround ourselves with other mothers and fathers because they are such an underrated asset. If Darcy does something out of the ordinary, I ask my yummy mummies their advice. They are always there to lend a helping hand when you need it.

And although you may lose touch with your old friends, just console yourself with the fact that when they have children, they’ll be ripping their fucking hair out too  they’ll understand. 

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(Please note: This photo was taken before I was a mum, or pregnant as you can see I am wearing make-up, enjoying a guilt-free Sobranie and have straightened my not-sicky hair) 

The Whole Truth… and nothing but.

So its been a while… I’d like to be strong and pretend I’m not ashamed to say I have Postnatal Depression. The truth is deep down I do feel shame. Lets be honest, now you know you think differently of me. I can’t help that, as humans we can’t help but judge others, the difference is whether you act on your judgements. I feel very fortunate that I have no psychosis (wanting to hurt your baby) but only get the weepies.

So I’ll set the record straight about my diagnosis, straight off the bat. I’m also addressing all my friends with PND.

In no way does your condition affect your ability to be a good mother. Read that again. Remember that, if nothing else. Please please remember that.

Secondly, its not your fault. Its a chemical imbalance in your brain, purely scientific and out of your control. No one chooses to be depressed.

Thirdly, it will get better. It is treatable. Unfortunately like most forms of depression its not something you ever live without but you certainly will get better. Surround yourself with good friends and family and most importantly get the professional help you need.

The decision to visit the doctors came about when my daughter turned 3 months old. I realised the baby blues really wasn’t going away and as someone who has battled with depression since my early teens, I knew the signs. I obviously got very down. Spent all my energy on caring for my baby and forgot about myself. I lost my appetite and my anxiety went through the roof. I spent my evenings crying, holding my child and imagining all sorts of horrors happening to her. I stopped letting anyone hold her, constantly worried about her health even though there was nothing wrong and I even panicked leaving her with Joe for a few minutes while I got dressed or did something necessary. For some reason I thought he would harm her, even though she is the love of his life and the thought is absolutely ridiculous my anxiety had spiralled out of control.  This was around breaking point and after Darcy was asleep soundly in her cot, I lay cradled in Joe’s arms sobbing and declared that it was time to get help.

My darling fiance gave me the gentle push in the right direction and I went to the doctors the next day. In the Doctor’s room, I couldn’t talk at first. I burst into silent tears, while Joe told the her how I was feeling. I managed a few words of confirmation and surprisingly felt relief as I was told, that was I was feeling was normal. I had Postnatal Depression.

I was put on antidepressants specifically targeted at PND patients and was to be visited by my health visitor soon. I began to feel better after a few days and I’m pleased to say its onwards and upwards.

I still have the occasional bad day but I just view my situation as a small hiccup in an otherwise very very happy life.