2016 – mixed, but survived …

For this first Blog of 2017 I’m sitting in bed with a mug of hot Ribena, whilst my teething snotty little boy naps in his cot – his faithful kitten curled up beside him. It’s quite nice, being snug in bed listening to the rain pitter patter against the windows. I was meant to go to Cheltenham racing today, but it hasn’t happened, and I’m not overly disappointed. My bets are placed though, and I may catch some ITV racing action later. I saw in 2017 around a log burner with good conversation and company whilst Fredders successfully slept in a travel cot upstairs [the kid is getting good].

We survived Christmas relatively unscathed but the lounge is now even more like a Smyths Toys outlet.

2016 seemed to rattle past at an alarming speed. This time last year I still had a baby, and now I have a bustling soon to be two year old – who never fails to make me smile. My heart could burst at the fun, the cheekiness, the giggle, of this little boy. This little boy whose feet grew a whole size in a month and is now sporting a very grown up size 7.

2016 saw the acquisition of an allotment, 3 [now 2] chickens, Percy Pickle the cat, a new car, a week in Woolacombe, a week in Pembrokeshire, days at Badminton Horse Trials, In the Night Garden Live, ThomasLand, the Safari Park. It saw Freddie starting a new wonderful nursery [Mayfield House, I love you], Freddie’s first Cambridge Formal Hall, his first proper pony rides [and a donkey on the beach at Weston!], winning “best dressed bear” for Bear Grylls at the NCT teddy bears picnic, and finally learning to SLEEP for more than 2 hours in a row. On the downside, we had a long, difficult summer with my father incarcerated in the QE awaiting a new heart. The long car journeys and the anxieties watching someone you love so poorly, was quite stressful – and I’m very glad to have Dad home again. Mum was diagnosed with Parkinsons which has also taken its toll.

It’s not always easy, this single parenthood malarkey; but it’s definitely worth it. I can hardly remember what it was like not to have Freddie in my world …

Hello 2017 … lets do this.

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Digging the good life

14457347_2005403863019375_8905010701908896545_nAfter a long summer of driving back and forth to the hospital to visit my poor Dad, I am pleased to report that miracles can happen. He is home. Still on the “normal” heart transplant list, but suitably well enough not to be on the urgent one. This is such a relief for us all, and Dad is feeling ok and enjoying his freedom. La Vie Est Belle. I captured this photo at the weekend, of Freddie and Grandpa inspecting the apples in the orchard. Glorious normality resumed.

I had some VERY exciting news this week; the news that 14469669_2007128326180262_6923977006778968916_nFreddie and I reached the top of the local allotment list, and have our very own allotment! I feel so strongly that I want Fredders to understand where food comes from, and to spend as much time outside as possible. We are lucky to live next door to a big park, so although we don’t have a garden, we have access to a lot of space. Our allotment is a 5minute walk away, and I am already planning our blank canvas. There is an apple, pear and plum tree …. I intend to get some ex battery hens, and create a series of raised beds using wood from my parents old decking. This is going to be a real challenge for me, as it’s all new – but I have a good feeling about it, and I look forward to seeing how it develops. I’d like Freddie to have his own patch, and look forward to sitting in my shed, listening to the Archers, watching things grow – living the good life. Next stop the library for some allotment books ….

Meanwhile, Fredders is 19 months old today …. I’m convinced these months are going quicker …. this week I’ve made 35 Christmas cards with a Freddie footprint design; I’ve wrapped one of his stockings full of presents, and put up my Halloween decorations. I’m sure I wasn’t this organised pre-motherhood. I’m damned sure I wasn’t this tired …. hence blogging once again in bed with a mug of hot milk, beside a warm snoring boy … 20.04 and signing off …

 

 

 

 

Home sweet home

13728971_1962498990643196_2599286044627108033_nIt is 9.06am and my son is still fast asleep beside me. This never happens; but it has been hot, and we’ve had a busy few days. I’ve just made myself a cup of tea, and as I walked to the kitchen, the sun casting pretty patterns on the tiles – I was reminded how much I love our home. In October I will have lived here for 2 years [which means I’ve already been blogging for 2 years …], and it is lovely to see these four walls develop into a family home …. the type and size of toys changing, the evolution of photographs on the walls … and the pitter patter of toddling feet along the hallway. It is happy, bright and lived in. There is always more I would like to do to it, but Flat 7 has always felt like home, and moving here was such a good decision. How fast time has gone, since I sat with a huge Freddie bump on the Chesterfield [in a much tidier and sparse lounge] trying to imagine what life would be like post partum; since I sobbed in the shower wondering if I could do it all. Then of course it was here where I brought my newborn in his moses basket, squishy and gurgling. This modest flat has provided for me, for us; a security, our own little haven; and I don’t think I will ever want to leave … the memories here have been the best of my life … and ones I will cherish forever and tell Fred about when he’s older.

Perhaps I’m in a philosophical mood, ignited because my beloved father is embarking on his 4th week  in hospital. It raises so many emotions; watching a loved one suffer; having to trust other people to fix them, and dealing with the reality that life is fragile, unfair, and short. There has been a heaviness these weeks; that Dad can’t be with us to enjoy the little things. Life isn’t as joyful when he’s not home. I’ve spent time in hospital myself, and the days are long. I’m hopeful that this week we may have a plan … but it has certainly provoked a lot of thinking and sadness, knowing my dear Dad is so poorly and that there is very little I can do to help him. We take our health forgranted ….

I’ve held Fred a little tighter, a little longer, recently …. ever aware of how quickly he is becoming a little boy. There are no words to describe the love for this little chap; the surge of protection, and the pride at the cheeky faced fun loving boy he is. I can’t imagine a time when he wasn’t in my life; and still pinch myself that he’s mine. How on earth did I unintentionally create something so utterly wonderful? I’m sure all parents think the same … but it’s the motherhood miracle which I’ll never quite get my head around. Sure, some days I’m pushed to my limits and long for bedtime, but when bedtime comes, I sit looking at my sleeping boy and forget about the housework which needs doing.

It’s now 6.30pm, and another Sunday is nearly over. My baby is once again sleeping peacefully beside me. I hope one day he looks back with good memories on his childhood, and remembers this home as a fun filled loving place to grow up. I want to get this right; and I feel the time is slipping through my fingers like grains of sand. I just brought a newborn home, surely?! Oh Freddie, you give me so much, and I’m loving watching you develop and grow … it’s great, this adventure.

Gratefulitis

The past month has been blighted by every flipping “itis” out there … tonsilitis, bronchiolitis, and this week – conjunctivitis! In 15 months of parenting, including pushing a 7Ib 9oz baby from my vagina with no pain relief; a second degree tear, cracked bleeding nipples, and an average of 4.5hours sleep a night – eye drops have been my biggest challenge yet … how the fecking hell are you supposed to single handedly do this? I’ve used the Steve Irwin and crocodile analogy before, but seriously … imagine Steve Irwin trying to get chlorophenicol into a crocodile’s eye … It has been a long week, and it’s only Wednesday [geez, it’s really only Wednesday] – initially we had hysterics [from Fred] and feeble tears from me. I’m too soft. I never imagined I would be a softy soft parent, but it seems I’m headed that way … I can’t bear my boy crying; I just want to scoop him up and cuddle him and make everything okay. He’s so cuddly [sorry Fred, if you’re reading this in 15 years time cringing!]

So it has been a bit fraught; worrying about the excessive gunky snotty slime which has oozed from his eyes … deliberating whether I should go to work and leave him … and struggling to get him to sleep in this very muggy humid heat.

13240009_1937899016436527_8858631791589882928_nThen amidst all the worries and goo, you suddenly have a moment and realise your life is pretty damned perfect, even with the chlorophenicol in the fridge. This time two years ago I wasn’t yet preggers … I had no intention of being preggers, and my life was drifting along at a casually okay sort of pace, living in a houseshare … not sure of what next; complaining if I’d slept less than 7 hours in a row. This evening I made chicken curry [Freddie’s favourite] followed by strawberries and cream. I think my son would eat curry every night of the week without complaining [maybe those years in India somehow transmitted across the placenta] – After tea we went to the park on his trike, where he swung on the swing and chuckled until it rained and we headed home, via the shop for an ice cream. I took this photo at our garage, looking up at our flat and our shiny car. Two years ago this wasn’t our world [I say our world, and yet Freddie didn’t even exist 2 years ago; how is that possible, how could the world exist without him in it?!!] …and when I look at this photo I feel such pride, such achievement; because hell; it took some determination and strength to go through pregnancy and flat buying alone [nevermind childbirth and motherhood!]

We are so lucky, me and my boy … and it takes my breath away how awesome and unpredictable life can be … what a miracle it all is …

And next week, we are off to sunny Woolacombe on our holibobs …

Nearly Golden Boobies!

This time last year I was enormous. I was reminded just how enormous I was by Timehop this morning. Freddie was definitely running out of womb, and I was in that wonderful waiting phase … looking wistfully at the moses basket, unbelieving my baby would soon fill it. How I ache to relive those times …

I live next door to a lovely large park … this park holds many memories for me. One of the earliest memories is walking back from town through this park with my Nan when I was about 6, stopping to sit on a bench and eat a Woolworths pick n mix. Last year when preggers I would regularly walk a few laps … in fact, it was on one such outing that I fell on my bottom on the ice on March 2nd last year … hurrying Freddie’s arrival. I walked laps of that park before going to the hospital in labour … I went on the blooming zip wire, and my cousin knew things were hotting up when I said “I don’t think I can do another circuit“! Freddie and I go to the park most days now, and this afternoon as I pushed him on his trike, I smiled at the crocus’ protruding through  the ground, in the same spots as this time last year … I remember stopping to admire them mid contraction by the tennis courts.

Had I blogged last week, or earier this, it would have been a depressing entry. Freddie was so poorly with his chest, which meant even less sleep than usual … and the mummy worries/guilt were off the scale. I then got the dreaded lurgy too, so it was a very sorry weekend with a lot of snot and a few tears. I think sleep deprivation can be absolute agony; and combined with poorliness, was not a good combination. I’m pleased to report that we’re both on the mend … and life has resumed it’s usual pace.

10176172_1881706565389106_7263003984439138840_nThis afternoon I took Fred to the barbers for the first time. I’m finally realising that my baby is no longer a baby! His hair was looking a little unkempt in his neck … and he really enjoyed sitting in the chair being pampered. Obviously I kept a lock for his memory box, along with the receipt … and when I put it in there earlier, was struck by how small his first outfit was …my baby Freddie …

I’m also awaiting shipment of Freddie’s 1st birthday 972194_1881710805388682_8806071762191897665_npresent; a toybox designed by the Traditional Toybox Company. It is just as I’d asked for … and I can’t wait for it to arrive .. although I’m still a little unbelieving that it has been a whole year since Fredders popped out of my vagina. I’ve been a mummy for nearly a year, and in breastfeeding terminology this is GOLDEN BOOBIES – not bad for someone who was going to give up after 3months!

 

 

 

The things I didn’t know then

12508852_1859404327619330_2168696790317340345_nThis time exactly 10 months ago, I was dipping my toe into the birthing pool, about to spend an incredible 8 hours breathing, swearing, laughing, pushing, grunting, and finally catching my darling little Fred in my arms. This is the last photo of the bump, taken prior to the filling of the pool. You’ll note I have a sandwich on the bed; even labour doesn’t stop me from eating! 10 months on, I’m sitting in bed as I often am when blogging … Fred is fast asleep beside me, and I’m reminiscing; unable to fully comprehend that it was LAST YEAR. My baby was born LAST YEAR. I look at this photo, at the Verity sitting on the birthing ball in her huge maternity night shirt, and realise there was a lot I didn’t know then …. as my cervix dilated, I was about to begin a huge learning curve into motherhood.

Funny thing is, I thought I was tired when this photo was taken; I’d been in slow labour for two days, and at this point I considered 4 hours sleep in a row very meagre and disappointing indeed. Today I would bite my right arm off for 4 hours sleep in a row!!! I genuinely think it’s amazing how the human body adapts to sleepless nights …

When this photo was taken I had a vague notion that I wanted a natural birth and wanted to breastfeed. I hadn’t written a birth plan because I didn’t think it possible to plan for something which I’d never experienced. I got my drug free birth, and I’m still breastfeeding! I never imagined I’d still be breastfeeding at 10 months [I thought 6 months was a big goal at the time!], and I’m so proud that I’ve managed to continue despite initial setbacks. I never imagined how painful it would be at the beginning, nor how rewarding and fulfilling. My boobs have a purpose, and I think it’s pretty frigging amazing that my body is making milk to feed Fred. He looks good on it too.

You can’t see my nails in this photo but they were immaculately painted because I wanted them to look nice in the first photo. I have probably painted my nails twice since then, once for a wedding and once for christmas … because it’s impossible to let them dry without being disturbed. I’m also now well adept at showering in under 4 minutes. A friend and I joked that applying moisturiser after a shower is now considered a luxury.

When this photos was taken I didn’t know what my Fred would look like, or the immediate and overwhelming love I would have for him. I didn’t know that everything before would blur into insignificance, that life would become totally and beautifully revolved around my little boy. I didn’t know the multitasking involved with motherhood, the growing strength of my biceps as I carry the boy around on my hip … I didn’t even know how to put on a nappy; and I remember being terrified of bathing him in the sink …

I have learnt more in the past 10 months than in the previous 32years put together. I’ve learnt what love really is, I’ve learnt it’s possible to give of yourself when you feel there’s nothing left in the tank … I’ve learnt that the human body is incredible, and that dusty skirting boards can wait …

I would do every last bit again, and perhaps one of the reasons I Blog, is to capture these moments – already too aware how fast time goes, and how quick these babies grow …

 

Always be my baby …

12279182_1843428132550283_8877033735379580676_nYou know that poem, can’t think of the name or even the exact words, let alone who wrote it. Until this year I’d always considered it soppy and a trifle cheesy; the one which goes something along the lines of “Time goes too fast for those who … too slow for those who …“? All I can say, as I’m 5 days away from returning to work – how true! Where oh where did these 9 months go. On Saturday my darling boy will have been in the world for 9 whole months … that’s equal to the amount of time he spent cooking in my tummy. I’ve pondered the strange concept of Mummy time ever since Fred’s arrival … but this week I’ve been a bit emotional at the prospect of maternity leave drawing to an end. I’ve looked back on the beautiful memories of the past 9 months; how much fun we’ve had, and all the things we’ve experienced together. I know I am fortunate, to have savoured every last moment, and to have shared so many precious moments with my baby [and to have recorded many in this Blog]. We’ve done Baby Sensory, Moo Music, Water Babies, Tiny Tots, Baby Painting, Breastfeeding Group, Rhythm Time … we’ve been to beach parties and halloween parties; and this Sunday I’m particularly excited about a “my first Christmas” party. We’ve made friends, and we’ve developed a lovely routine together.

Babies grow so quickly; quicker than I was ever prepared for. It seems like yesterday I was nursing a growing bump this time last year; wearing a “Santa Baby” t shirt and wondering what life would be like a year on. Never could I have imagined how amazing 2015 would’ve been with my Freddie in the world. Somehow, you take home a newborn, and blink … and you have a babbling, crawling, tooth chomping 9 month old. REWIND PLEASE! It scares me how fast Freddie has grown; I still remember our first night here so well. It’s different, being a single mum – because you spend so much one on one time with your baby. Those first weeks, it was just me and Fred in our flat, and I’m proud that I’ve managed, and nurtured such a sociable, cheerful and loving little boy. There were times when I was so tired I didn’t think I could get out of bed and function let alone change a nappy; yet you do … out of love. There’s no one to share the middle of the night worries with, or to debate parenting philosophies at 4am; but that makes you stronger, because you get on and do it on your own.

I keep telling myself that 16 hours over 4 days is perfectly do-able. I’ve done two Keep in Touch days, and Freddie has been fine, and delighted to see me on my return. My boobs have survived the morning without exploding over my blouse, and I know we will adapt our routine. It will be fine; yet I know I will hanker after these glorious days of maternity leave – 0f planning your week around play dates and baby groups. I’ll miss being there for every first; and I hate the thought of my baby crying and momma not being there to make it better. It feels like the first Rite of Passage into non-babyhood, and this does make me sad. Freddie will always be my baby … my little boy.

And tonight, as we were bopping in the kitchen to Kelly Clarkson’s “Underneath the Tree” whilst I cooked tea, Freddie was bouncing up and down in his high chair, chuckling … I looked at him and realised that I have a little boy now .. not a baby; a little boy with such personality and expression. A little boy who will clap when I say “clap” and wave when I say “wave”. And he’s mine, he’s really mine … the little boy who entered the world splashing around in the birthing pool 9 whole months ago; enriching my world and capturing my heart.