Sunday, 21 September 2014

Life on The Upper East Side

...Because I just realised that we ACTUALLY do live on the Upper East Side ;)

Just a bit of a general update/recap post- there's a few social comments, but no huge revelations in this one.

So, here's what we've done this week:

On Monday- as I said previously- we had a baby CPR/choking "what to do" lesson. It was really good. Really informative. I'd actually wanted to do one of these whilst I was pregnant, and had planned on doing one in January before having Percy but never got around to it. Where we used to live, these weren't available as part of the Health Visiting system, and so you had to book to attend one of the sessions ran by the NCT; the cost per person was £70. Up here though, it's free and run by the Health Visitors. They come round to your house, with one of those plastic doll things and show you what to do; then you get to have a go so that you can gauge the sort of force required to dislodge anything in their airway/ resuscitate them if they're unconscious. I'm really glad that I've done it. Choking is one of my big fears; I always worried that I would freak out if she started choking, and not know how to handle the situation. Now that I know what I'm supposed to do, I feel a lot calmer about the whole thing- well, as calm as you can feel anyway! 

Tuesday was driving day- beep beep! Percy loves it when we go driving. She sits in the back seat, and just falls asleep (apart from one lesson where she decided that she wanted to chew on the instructors hand for the entire two hours). THANKFULLY it went well. I am a driving pro. I think the whole "having six weeks not driving, starting with a new car, and being in a new area" definitely set me back a bit initially. Also, as I've said before, Sunderland driving is VERY different to Ludlow driving. In all seriousness, I think I could take my test in Ludlow tomorrow, and pass with no minors; I could take my test here tomorrow, and get 542642 minors and 32642 majors (ok, maybe not that many, but you get what I mean). It's a lot harder driving up here. Also, there's these four HUGE roundabouts, and you will definitely encounter at least one of them on your test. Let me show you one of these bad boys:

They are bitches. They are evil. They are crazy. He said it went really well though, and we're going over manoeuvres next week. I want to take my test before the end of October and then get a really rubbish tin can car (or transit van- I would sell a kidney for a transit van) so that we're a bit more mobile, and less reliant on trains and things when we have to travel long distances. 

Wednesday was baby sign language. I really like baby sign language. Percy likes seeing babies; it's a win-win situation- although she does become the most vocal baby in the entire world when we're there. She literally does not stop chatting. We went over basic needs in the first lesson (like "milk", "food", etc.) and then this week we covered family members and emotions. I'm trying to be really consistent about using them at home so that she'll hopefully pick them up quite rapidly. It will be a big comfort to me when I know that she can communicate what she wants, and how she feels about situations. I'm also going to ask them to try and keep up with it when she starts at nursery (not long now!), so that I know she's being understood there aswell. (Side note: I have managed to refrain from signing "daddy is a twat"- I think everyone should be very proud.)

Thursday and Friday were a bit lazy. We stayed in and I had a bit of a sort out of the house. Actually, I've got a really funny story about this:

So, for anyone who isn't my friend on fb and is reading this, my landlord has been really good to us. He managed to get us a few sets of drawers and some wardrobes, and a bed, and also LOADS of clothes for Percy, all free of charge . Really kind. A lot of the clothes had never been worn- he said his friend had won the lottery and bought far too many things, so the baby had grown out of them before they could be used. We were very lucky.

Now, he and the handyman came and dropped off the furniture for us a couple of weeks ago. One of the sets of drawers was assembled, as was the bed. They said the remainder of the items were a bit of a jigsaw puzzle, and if I got stuck, to just give them a call. Anyone who knows me knows that I don't really like asking for help; I like to be able to do things on my own. So, I started putting together the other set of drawers.

All the furniture is the same range; which makes it a bit difficult when you're trying to distinguish which pieces belong to which unit, but it was ok. I found the instructions for the drawers on the ikea website- thought I was off to a flying start, and should be finished within an hour. It was at this point that I realised I didn't have any of the screws and pins and stuff- that's ok, I've got screws and pins, I can use those. Carried on....and then realised that I hadn't got the slats that actually hold the unit together; I had all the outside pieces, but the structure wasn't stable without these slats. I've included a link to the instructions so that you can better see what I'm talking about:

WAIT, I thought- EUREKA! I had a bought a load of bed slats from a lady when I first moved in and had a load of them spare- I can use those! They were too short. I figured I could kind of screw them together... You're getting the picture. Anyway, to cut a long story short (or shorter at least), after 431 failed attempts, these are now the "completed" drawers (don't laugh!):



THEY STAND UP, AND I CAN KEEP STUFF IN THEM- that is all that I need.

Percy was allowed to have a little play with Boris and Jeremy. I put The Aristocats on, and pretended they were singing Scales and Arpeggios whilst they "danced" round the room. Percy loved it. Boris spent the entire time looking at me like "I hope you come back as a cat in your next life". They've  grown so much already since we first got them. Boris is absolutely huge; Jeremy is still the runt, and just follows Boris about all the time- Boris is clearly Top Dog. 

Saturday was supposed to be baby yoga day. However, we've both been a bit poorly, and on Friday night Piglet kept me up until half past three in the morning. I was very cranky. I'm not good when I'm sleep deprived: ask anyone who was doing computational labs with me (worst time ever- literally every night was an all-nighter). Initially, she wouldn't go to sleep because she was all snuffly. After a while, she had just decided she wanted to be nocturnal and it was time to shout and play.

We went and got some medicine from Boots as part of the NHS Minor Ailments Scheme- if you don't pay for your prescriptions then at participating pharmacies you are able to get free medicine. It's not brand medicine though; literally just the active ingredient. So, as such, we left Boots with some paracetamol suspension for ourselves (although it was technically prescribed to Percy, but I wasn't going to ask for a second bottle for me). Now, I gave it to Percy first. Percy is normally quite funny about medicine- she spits calpol straight back out- but this stuff, she seemed to really like. As such, I wasn't that prepared for any vile taste when I had my dose. It is the worst thing I have ever had in my mouth. Worse even than Day Nurse (and I hate Day Nurse). Clearly, Percy has some crazy taste buds. It's keeping our colds under control though, and that's the main thing that matters,

Today, we have had another race! (It's becoming a weekly thing). Only a 5k this time. It was a colour run up near Sunderland, where they throw dye and stuff at you, but we avoided the dye stations (mainly because of Percy- I didn't think she'd really appreciate it; also my lungs were dying from being ill, so I figured that any dye inhalation might just finish me off). We completed it in 26 minutes, which I was pretty happy with; we were the first pushchair across the finish line, and I reckon we were probably in the first 5% of people to complete it. Parts of the course were quite hilly, and we had a bit of a pit-stop at 3km because Percy was shouting for her dummy. I was a lot more affected from being ill than I thought I would be. In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have done it because The Illness has spread to my chest (big no-no for runners). I really would love to be able to have one of these runs where I can say "yes, that was absolutely the best time that we could have finished in, and nothing held us back"- I might try bargaining with my immune system next time ("I will feed you cake if you promise to behave, and fight off all the bugs").

I wanted to finish on this note, because I like to keep my blog as open and honest as I can. I don't believe in propagating myths. I think that one of the reasons that the incidence of post-natal depression is so high, is because people (especially those who are mothers) are not honest enough about their experiences. I am not innocent; I am as guilty as the rest- 80% of the time, we are lovely, and wonderful. 20% is a nightmare. And initially, I didn't want to share that 20% with anyone- I felt that I was a failure. I still do. I do not think I am good mum. I try my hardest, but it's something that I really struggle at. In fact, pre-babies, I used to joke that the reason I wasn't going to have any children was that they would "disappoint" me, as I set my standards so high; ironically, now that I have Percy, I feel that it is the opposite- it is I, who is failing her; she deserves a better mum.

I'm not good with crying babies. I'm really not good with crying babies. I get very wound up. And I want to throw myself off a bridge sometimes. So, I do tend to have quite a few rants on fb to try and prevent the aforementioned bridge-throwing-off- scenario. I know that maybe I shouldn't. It's probably not socially acceptable. But it helps me cope. It keeps me sane. And I'm very grateful that the majority of people who I'm friends with on fb understand where I'm coming from. I am in awe of the support that I have, and so thankful for it.

I do just want to say, that I have never been a baby person. I have never felt broody in my life. As a child, I used to tell my Gran that I was never having children. I never planned a baby. That being said, I have my own, very personal reasons for choosing to keep my Piglet. I'm not ready to share them.  I am hoping that one day I can separate myself from the experience enough to be able to write about it. Because I think that it would help me. and I think that it's something that needs to be discussed. However, I do not think that day will be soon.

I love my Piglet, and I never, ever regret having her. I love my Piglet because she is my baby. It is not a crime for me to not universally love babies. I don't think I am alone in this feeling: I may be in a minority group, but I'm sure I can't be the only one. Babies are very different when they are your own. This week, we've had  a lots of teething issues followed by being ill. This week, we haven't had a lot of sleep. I find it incredibly frustrating being sleep deprived, and having masses of things to do- as I think anyone does. It is healthy to feel a range of emotions, and to express them. I have been struggling, and I think I just need to remind myself that I  don't need to do everything all at once. Some things can be left for a little while. And I will continue to try to become the mother that Persephone deserves. 

Speaking of Baby Wiggles, she is most definitely blond-haired and blue-eyed; the Stanway genes are shining through! (Although she should probably hope that she gets Daddy's boobs- I'm sorry, I couldn't resist!)

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Five Reasons Why I Wish I Was Cheryl Fernandez-Versini (And Five Reasons Why I'm Glad That I'm Not)

Reasons why I wish I was Cheryl Fernandez-Versini:
(Aside from the obvious reasons like "I quite like her hair, and her face, and her.")

1) She is filthy filthy dirty stinking rich
Oh my gosh, I wish I was rich. I was I was Jordan Belfort (back in the day obvs). I could spend money so much better than all the rich people do. I would buy this:
And this:


And this (which is utterly awesome):

And 14 of these, for Percy:


2) She is besties with Simon Cowell
Don't pretend you don't want to be besties with Simon Cowell. You do. You really really do. If you don't then I don't understand you, and I think you're odd. And don't tell me that you wouldn't love to have been able to send him this text:

'F*** you. F*** Fox. F*** Britain's Got Talent. F*** the orange and purple outfit. F*** big hair. F*** the UK X Factor. F*** you all. I hate you.'

3) She has had not one, but TWO husbands
Come on Cheryl, stop being greedy- some of us haven't even had one. Although, I've been rethinking this, and now that I've learnt that shockingly I can actually survive without anyone male, I don't think I want one anyone. They'd just get in the way and do things wrong. (That is right; I am talking about husbands as though they are shoes. I don't care.)

4) She has a Geordie accent
Would definitely help right now. Would be able to blend in a lot more easily. (The only things I can say in a Geordie accent are: Cheryl Cole, Newcastle and Vicky. I am very talented.)

And the final, most important reason that I wish I was Cheryl Fernandez-Versini is:

5) She doesn't have a semi-plastered hole in her wall
And if she did, she could hire someone to fix it. As it stands, Percy says I can do five minutes of plastering, then I must come back and play with her for several hours. This pattern repeats itself throughout the day.

Reasons why I'm glad that I'm not Cheryl Fernandez-Versini:

1) Stalkers and Imitators
Ok, so by "stalkers" I actually mean people pestering you for stuff, and not taking the hint to leave you alone. I have a baby and two cats. They pester me a lot, but I love them, and they are one of my priorities, so I'm ok with that. Other people who pester me: bugger off.
And as for imitation, the slightest, teeniest, tiniest degree of taking "inspiration" from me (it's copying mate- don't lie) really winds me up. I don't find it flattering; I find it rude.

2) I wouldn't be able to go for a run
Or to Asda. Or on a train. Or anywhere. I quite like the fact that I'm anonymous.

3) I couldn't cope with the constant judgement
Seriously. The scrutiny would annihilate me. Also, I always look a mess, so I'd forever be in the "what were you thinking?" section of Heat, with baby sick on my shoulder, mascara in my hair, coffee all down my top... you get the picture.

4) I wouldn't be a Chemistry Genius
No offence to Cheryl- for all I know she could secretly be a member of mensa, have 9 PhD's and have won the Nobel Prize twice. I'm going to assume that she hasn't though. I like being clever. I like being really clever. I'm not going to be modest about it- if I don't sing my praises then nobody else is going to. I think I would find it frustrating to be less intelligent. (I'll put my ego back in it's box now).

And the final, most important reason that I am glad I am not Cheryl Fernandez-Versini is:

5) I wouldn't have my Wiggle Piglet
And I love my moany, noisy, chubby Wiggle Piglet more than anything else in the world. Even when she screams at me all the bloody time. And when she tries to eat my hair on the train.

Monday, 15 September 2014

How To Be A MILF (How To Lose That Baby Weight)

Before I start, I just want to say that the majority of this post is very tongue-in-cheek to counteract the negativity of my previous entry (I'm on a bit of a guilt trip about how negative I was- also, Percy has stopped crying and gone to sleep so I can actually hear myself think now).

SO:

STEP 1: Ditch Your Boyfriend/ Husband/ Partner/Baby Cakes/ Honey Bunch/ Sweetie Pie/ Whatever You May Call Them

Significant others are a big no-no in the world of the MILF. Romantic meals for two? Date nights? Sitting down???? What do you think you're doing?! If you want to be that yummy mummy, you've got to start by NOT STOPPING AT ALL. Shut that door on your partner, and don't let them back in. Now, get ready to start doing everything BY YOURSELF. YOU are now the home maker, and the bread winner. That's right, you are going to be on your feet for 24 HOURS A DAY, and you are going to LIKE IT. MOVE, MOVE, MOVE.

STEP 2: Get A Difficult Baby

Is your baby nice and content? Never cries? Sleeps all day? Well, this will never do! To start with make sure that you're always at the opposite end of the house when they start crying: this way you've got a quick sprint to dash to grab them- FANTASTIC high intensity interval training. Even better, why don't you throw a bit of teething in there? That's a good one to get them all unsettled and keep you nice and occupied.

STEP 3: Move House And Get Some Cats

This is a really good one for shifting those pounds. It's also good if you can end up homeless at some point. All that stress kills any hint of an appetite you might have. As for the cats, dogs would work just as well, I imagine. Any animal that demands food and makes a mess: keeps you on your feet more, see.

STEP 4: Jillian Michaels

Just do it. Go on Amazon right now. Search Jillian Michaels. Start with 30 day shred. This one isn't even a joke. SHE WILL TRANSFORM YOUR BODY. SHE WILL MAKE YOU A GODDESS.

STEP 5: PROTEIN, PROTEIN, PROTEIN

As much as you can get. Dr Atkins wasn't crazy- he was a revolutionary. Don't eliminate carbs completely (you're going to need those for all your running around)- but limit them. Find a good carb balance, and make sure that you ALWAYS have protein at EVERY OPPORTUNITY. I basically live on scrambled eggs and protein shake. PROTEIN IS ESSENTIAL FOR MILF TRAINING.

STEP 6: You've Been Tango-ed

Get your tan on. If you're rich then get that fast action fake bake liquid- it says leave it on for an hour, but MILFs need at least 8 hours tan development time. If you're poor then St Moriz will do just fine. You need to get the right tone of orange- make sure you're just bordering on Oompa Loompa territory.


In all seriousness, I wanted to do this post because I've been asked how I lost the baby weight by a few people, so I thought I'd share. The first three are clearly a joke, Don't ever do these: cling to your partner as though they are your life support; never wish for teething; and don't, ever, under any circumstances get kittens. If you want a cat, get one that's 20 and has three legs.

Jillian Michaels is fantastic, though. A lot of her workouts are only half an hour- just get up half an hour before you normally would. If you're that bothered about shedding baby weight, or any weight, then you can do that for yourself. You can do them at home, so you don't have to look like a banana in front of other people. You just need a yoga mat and some hand weights- I got mine from sports direct and they don't cost the earth. And it's astonishing how much fitter you get in such a short space of time: both visually and in terms of actual "fitness".

I carried on running whilst I was pregnant with Percy up until I was about 27 weeks, which is when they recommend you stop anything high impact. Obviously then I had the 6 week downtime after the c-section. I was a bit naughty about this, and actually started with the DVDs and a bit of running, 4 weeks post-delivery (I'm not recommending this, I am just stating what I did- nobody shout, or sue me if your scar breaks open, or anything like that).

The protein thing is also meant seriously. It's fantastic. I spent a lot of time avoiding protein, and weights because I never wanted to build muscle and be "bulky"; you won't get bulky. You're not using huge weights. And it's protein, not steroids. You get lean. And fit. And strong.

Be patient. Don't expect to wake up the next day 20lbs lighter. It's a gradual change, but it does work. You will fall off the wagon, maybe several times. But that's ok. Anticipate that. Don't be like "oh no, I've ruined it so I'll just give up." Keep going.

Final point: remember that you're building muscle aswell as shedding fat. There will be times when you think your scale is stuck, but it's not. You'll have weeks where you gain a pound, but your clothes feel like they're five sizes too big: it's just because you're laying down muscle. To be honest, the number on the scale isn't that important; you could be losing weight, but if you're losing muscle then that sucks. That happens in crash diets and kills your metabolism. Just don't do it. Avoid crash diets like the plague.

And, to anyone saying "don't be ridiculous, this won't work"- I've lost over 3 stone in the past six months, and I've kept it off. It's insane, but it's absolutely amazing.

(I promise I will have stopped sounding like a personal trainer by the next blog entry)

Runner's Highs and Mother's Lows

So, this weekend Percy and I went down to Stoke because we were running a 10k there on Sunday (14th). It wasn't the first race I'd ran with the baby jogger, but it was the first one I'd done in a while so I was a bit nervous about the whole thing.

It was quite funny actually, because at the start people were like "you're running with a baby...?" and then by 6km, everyone was asking if they could ride on the back. We got a high five from one boy. Lots of support. It was really nice. I was also a bit nervous about the distance itself. Obviously I did my half marathon in June, but in the past month we haven't had that much chance to get out and run. And when we have, I wasn't overly in the mood for it- I felt I had to do it because of the race. Thus, the longest distance we ran during "training" (hahaha) was 5.96 miles last Thursday. Which took us an hour and 10 minutes (although I did keep stopping to change music quite frequently).

When I initially signed up for the 10k, I had set myself a target of doing it in under an hour (I didn't want to be too optimistic since I had the baby jogger). 10k is 6.27 miles (according to their route, anyway), so I really didn't think I was going to be able to do it. Completely under-trained; unfamiliar with the course; weighed down with the baby jogger: my chances were pretty slim.

The course was ok, initially. Got to 5km pretty easily. There was a water point there which I was massively in need of. No energy gels though- I should have taken some of my stash with me. I struggled a little after that point to get my momentum back up, but I really hit my wall between the 7 and 8km markers. And there was a HUGE hill at this point. I'm not talking about a quick, steep, "just do it and it's over" type hill; I'm on about a long long long long hill with a sufficient incline that just keeps on going and going and going. After what seemed like an eternity, it was over. Staggered on to 9km...and then sprinted. Honestly, we were Usain Bolt for that last kilometre. Crossed the finish line... 59 minutes and 38 seconds.

YES!!!!!!!!!

So, so, so happy- both about the time. and the fact that it was over. Percy slept the entire way, except for the last five minutes, and she didn't even make a noise then. She really likes going for runs (they're actually the quickest way to get her to sleep). 

Whilst we were down there we stayed with my Gran and Gramps, and saw my Nana aswell. It was lovely to see them all. Percy enjoyed herself. (Gramps has also put a bell on the running pushchair for us, so that we can warn people that we're coming- VERY good idea). 

We got back home yesterday, just before midnight. The cats had surprisingly not been sick everywhere. I was very impressed with them. Well done, boys. 

Now, I don't know if it's because we had an exciting weekend, so now she's a bit bored; or maybe it's because of teething; or maybe she's a bit poorly; or maybe she's just a moody poo, but Percy has been a nightmare this morning. An absolute nightmare.

Oh wait, hang on: I'm lying. She was wonderful for an hour whilst the health visitor came round to teach us baby CPR; and then she turned into a nightmare. She has cried. And cried. And cried and cried and cried and cried and cried and cried and cried, and I am going to shoot myself. 

(Also, as an aside: baby CPR- dead good. Learn it.)

Initially, it was because she was tired. And she wouldn't go to sleep. This is one of those things that really, really, really irritates me about babies. If you're tired, then sleep. I can't fix the problem. Stop moaning about it- only you can fix it, with sleep. 

So, we had an hour of crying before she finally went to sleep. At which point I thought "BRILLIANT! Now I can get everything sorted that I need to do, whilst she sleeps".

She woke up after 10 minutes and was crying again.

This has continued throughout the day. She finally shut up about half an hour ago. And now she seems almost happy...? Maybe? (Tempting fate by saying this: no doubt she will be screaming again in 10 minutes time).

Anyway: to anyone who has ever had the thought: "urgh, it's so easy for single mums, they just have a baby and the government gives them a load of money, and they can sit round all day doing nothing"- that isn't true. I do not sit around all day sipping fucking sangria, and watching Made In Chelsea. Dear God, sometimes I wish I bloody did (she's started crying again now- what did I tell you?).

I will swap with you. For a week. Quite happily. And then we'll see what you say on the matter. Because it is hard. I can't just go home from work at 5 or 6 or even midnight- I am always on duty. I've worked three jobs at once, before; I've worked 15 hour shifts; I've had days where I've been at uni from 9am-5pm, gone straight to work until 2am, got home at 3am, and had to be up by 6am; I'm telling you all now that this is harder than any of those things.

It is worth it. But it is hard. When she is lovely, it is wonderful. I am not being a complete negative Nelly, I am simply venting my frustrations so that I don't throw myself off a bridge. 

The worst thing of it all, is that Percy is in the class of "good babies": I dread to think what bad babies are like. And to anyone who has more than one child- especially anyone who is by themselves with more than one child- you are crazy, and you deserve 73051630 medals.

So, finally, to my future husband, whoever you may be: I'm not having your babies. I have no desire to have babies ever again. I am a one child kind of girl. I am no Angelina Jolie. I apologise in advance.

(NB. This is just my take on the matter. It might be a lot easier if you're a maternal person? I've never really been into babies, or kids, or anything like that.... Please don't let me put anyone off children. I don't want you coming up to me in the street in 40 years and being like "It's all your fault I never had a child!" They are wonderful. Just get a nanny. Or maybe even 5 nannies. As many nannies as you can possibly get.)



Friday, 12 September 2014

A Note on "Mistakes"/ Dear Haters

Sorry about the mass influx of blogging; I'm mainly using it to try to avoid housework and DIY. That being said, I have had a lot on my mind, and I wanted to write it down. Because I wanted this message shared. 

Right, this post is mainly aimed at anyone who has ever been judged. Or told that they are a failure. Or that they have made a mind-blowing, life-altering mistake. It's a message of support. It's a message about strength. It's also a bit (a lot) of an "up yours" to anyone who has ever bitched about me (of which I know there are many), and to tell them that they're wrong.

In a lot of people's eyes, I have made many mistakes. I have heard about people who have said that I've "messed up again" or that I had "so much potential, and I've wasted it". These people are wrong.

When I was ill, and I had my year off, obviously it was all kept under wraps. I didn't want to share the real reason that I was taking a break from Uni, for fear that I would be judged. I did not look unwell at this point; physically I looked healthy, yet mentally I was still very scarred. And I know what people said. People speculated, they talked, they gossiped, and the crowd's verdict on the matter was: "Harriet is a failure".

Wrong. You couldn't be more wrong. It was one of the bravest things that I've ever done, and it was something that I needed. It was one of the most sensible things that I have ever decided to do. It helped me a lot, and I think that anyone who can stand up and say: "You know what? I just need a bit of time, to heal myself", is a really strong person, and is highly commendable. 

When rumours began to spread about my pregnancy, they said the same thing: "Oh, look, she's messed up again". HA HA HA HA. Percy has made me. She has given me more than I could ever have imagined, and enhanced my life in ways that I didn't think were even possible. My biggest "mistake", as they would call it, has been my greatest achievement. I am so much stronger, and more patient, and understanding, and caring, and responsible, and assertive, and confident, and I've learnt to multi-task (finally!). It's been damned hard work, but it's made me grow so much. 

Interestingly, if you look at the bigger picture, it is my eating disorder that gave me my daughter. If I was never ill, I would never have asked for the time away from Uni; I would never have met Percy's dad; I wouldn't have my baby.

The irony of the whole thing is that the people who are talking about me in a negative light, and who see me as a failure are those who I would place in that category. I may not have followed the generic path; I may have taken a few side streets, and diversions. But at the end of the day, my destination is so much better than theirs. Sure, it's taking me a bit longer to get there, but I'm a stronger person for that. I'm a better person for that. I'm not judgemental, I'm very liberal, I'm very tolerant, and all of these are characteristics that I have developed along my journey. The 16 year old Harriet was a very different person to who I am today. And I like who I am today. Everything that has happened has made me a strong person. And (especially after the last few months) I truly believe that I can cope with anything that is thrown at me. 

To all of you who are "failures"; who have "made mistakes"; who have "wasted your potential": Welcome to the club; I'm the President. 

And to anyone who has bitched; to anyone who has gossiped; to anyone who has judged:
Up yours.
You're weak.
We're not. 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Dear Wiggle Piglet, (6 Months)

To my little Wiggle Piglet,

I worry about you. I worry about us. This is nothing new. Ever since I found out that you were on your way, I have worried. I worried that you weren’t there at all to start with. That I would go to the 12 week scan, and they would say “oh sorry, you’re insane, there’s no baby here.”

I worried that there would be something wrong with you. I eliminated everything that had even the slightest evidence of causing a foetus harm. No caffeine, no tuna, no sushi, no paracetamol, no partially cooked eggs, no herbal tea, sleep on your left side; the list was endless. At around 17 weeks pregnant, I cracked and had caffeine. I was paranoid that I’d harmed you.

That wasn’t the case, and at the 20 week scan, they said you were absolutely fine. I remember being in the waiting room with your Mimsy ahead of the scan, upset (borderline hysterical) because I was so convinced that you weren’t ok.

After that point came the paranoia of early labour. I used to have recurring dreams that you were born at 22/23/24 weeks and I had to deliver you myself because nobody was around. We had a growth scan at around 30 weeks, and they said you were small. You didn’t look like you were following the growth curve that you should. I started to get really bad headaches. I was convinced that I had preeclampsia, and that’s why you weren’t growing.

Then came the fixation on the birth. I was worried about anything happening to you; I was worried about the lack of control I would have; I was worried about the potential damage to me. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t happy with the risks of either a natural birth or a c-section, but you had to come out some way.

I spent the entire of pregnancy worrying about you. I was a very anxious pregnant woman.

6 months ago, on the 11th of March, 2014, I headed into hospital to await your arrival. Before going into theatre, they conducted a general antenatal check on both of us, to make sure that we were alright, in terms of our health, and that everything was fine for them to carry out the surgery. This included monitoring your heart rate. The midwife wasn’t happy with your heart. She said it was too slow, and sent for the doctor. The doctor wasn’t happy either- he said they needed to get you out as soon as possible.

Panic. I thought that this was it. It was everything that I’d feared. You weren’t ok. I’d managed to keep you safe for 8 ½ months, and at the final hurdle you were being taken away from me.

You were fine though. It was the most wonderful day of my life, when you arrived. Everything happened just as I had wanted it to, and I fell in love with you as soon as I saw you. You were very small. Very small. And you weren’t very good at drinking your milk to start with. I was very worried about you. Your weight dropped to 5lb 5oz. I didn’t want to take you home until I knew that you were eating enough. So we stayed in hospital a bit longer, and gradually you got the hang of drinking your milk.

We struggled a little in the beginning adjusting to one another. You liked to be rocked to sleep, but you wouldn’t sleep for me if I rocked you; only when Mimsy did it. I didn’t like being woken up in the middle of the night (who does?), but you were almost nocturnal for those first few weeks. You always wanted to eat whenever I did (this is probably why I lost a lot of the baby weight very early on). It took us a little while, but we learned about each other. You “agreed” to sleep all night as long as you were in my bed; I learnt to eat with one hand, so that I could feed you at the same time, (we’re still working on the rocking- that is still an issue at the moment).

It’s just the two of us living together now. You’ve had a lot of changes in your life already. This is the third house you’ve lived in! And whilst you’ve been a bit moany whenever we’ve moved, you’ve generally coped so well with everything; despite my anxious pregnancy, you are a very calm, chilled out baby. And I am a very lucky mummy, in that respect.

You have grown so much. I’ve watched you go from being so fragile and tiny, to being a big chubby wiggle who won’t stay still for more than two seconds. From being silent, to non-stop chattering. You sat up for the first time last week. And it is only now, as I pack away the next lot of clothes that are too small for you, that I realise how quickly time has gone.

And I feel like I’ve missed it. Like I wasn’t there. I’ve spent the past 6 months trying to juggle everything; the last month in particular has understandably been very chaotic. The time has gone too quickly- and I can’t go back.

You’re lying on your playmat at the moment, with Roger Rabbit, Jangles Puppy Dog and your Piglet. Laughing and chatting. Rolling around. You really are so beautiful, and so clever.

I want you to know, that I’ve always tried to do what is best for us. And I hope that you understand that one day. I didn’t realise it was possible to love somebody so much, until I had you. Whilst it’s wonderful to see you growing and developing, it’s also making me a little sad. So, try not to grow up too fast, please?


Mummy xxx

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

How I Became A Stripper

Money was tight. It was something I’d wanted to do for a while, but I had never had the opportunity before. It seemed like a good idea. I was incredibly anxious as I started. What if something went wrong? What if I was awful? It could have been a complete disaster. I found it harder than I thought I would, but I persevered, and I'm still doing it now.

This is the story of how I became a stripper. A wallpaper stripper, that is. (To everyone male reading this: I'm totally fine with you leaving this page now. I'm aware that I lured you here under false pretences.)

So, I've started properly decorating. I'm still mid-way through removing paint/varnish/god-only-knows-what from the woodwork, but I figured I’d make a start on the walls too. (NB. This is code for "got some nitro mors onto the wallpaper and it started peeling off, so I began picking at it.)

It's been an...interesting experience. Started with the stair wall in the hallway. Now, I'd been warned about dodgy plaster under wallpaper, so I have no excuse. I wanted to get rid of the wallpaper anyway. I didn't want to paint over it; I wanted it gone. (Clearly I just want to make things harder for myself.) Anyway, so there I was, pulling away at this wallpaper; feeling pretty impressed that I was such a DIY goddess. 

Pulled at the next bit of wallpaper- and a load (and I mean A LOAD) of plaster came off with it. I was like, ok, that's fine. I can just fill it. That is ok. So, went and looked at my DIY book that I'd got from the library. It says that if you've got a big thing in the wall that you need to fill, you need to make sure all the edges are secure; basically, start picking at the wall surrounding the crevice (or crater in my case) and get rid of the loose bits.

The area that needed filling was big anyway. When I'd finished picking at it, it was massive. It's probably about 1.5m x 0.5m, and at least a couple of inches deep. This was not a job for filler. Went and got some plaster and pva, primed the wall, and put the first coat of plaster on. Ran out of plaster.It's looking better than it did already, but at the moment I'm just waiting for some more money so that I can get more plaster and carry on with it. It's pretty obvious that someone had tried to fill it a bit before, but they'd done an absolutely shite job of it. 

TO SUMMARISE: Never ever ever strip wallpaper. Unless you are crazy, like I clearly am. Or rich, and can hire someone to do it for you. Or bored, and you want something that's really time intensive.

In terms of Percy's world, I realised that with all my moaning, I'd never discussed what happened at the groups we went to! So, baby massage was lovely. Like I've said, we'd done a bit before, but I needed a bit of a refresher. They give you handouts after each session here, which I really like, because then you can refer to them if you forget all the techniques (which I always do). Baby yoga- really enjoyed it. Percy really liked it. She loves seeing other babies, so she was very excited about that. She seemed to like the yoga aspect of it aswell, and it definitely calmed her down, and made her sleep better (praise the lord). 

We've got baby sign language tomorrow. Our old baby sign language teacher in Stoke (who we went to one class with, and were supposed to be starting with this week) completely sorted this out for me, and was really wonderful. There was a class in Sunderland, but it was full, so I put our names down on the waiting list. Our old teacher got in touch with the teacher there, who e-mailed me and said that she would happily extend the class by one place, just for us. Really, really lovely. Very grateful.

The Health Visitor came round on Friday. I love her. She's fantastic. We're off to baby clinic this afternoon to see how chubby my piglet has gotten (very chubby, is the answer to that), and then we've got Percy's first "settling-in" visit at nursery. Which I am simultaneously very excited about, yet also very nervous. She loves other babies, so I think it will be nice for her to be able to "socialise"; I am getting a little freaked out about leaving her now. After all my months of moaning. Reverting to being a clingy mother. Who would have thought it!