I’m pregnant. Actually, really pregnant. When I told H that I thought I was, he didn’t quite believe me. In the airport on the way back home I determinedly hunted out a pregnancy test whilst he coolly took in episode # 7892 of ‘Nat thinks she is pregnant again’. As I rushed upstairs to FINALLY do the test he busied himself unpacking, clearly not expecting anything.
But when I saw the mystical two lines on my test and rushed bellowing downstairs, parading my precious evidence to him, I expected the tears and amazement that I have seen lots from new YouTube dads but I got none of that.Apparently one of the lines was faint. I rushed out to Sainsburys determined to get some concrete evidence and promptly peed on a clear blue test which tells you if you’re pregnant and when you conceived.
It was there, declaring that our baby was probably created very soon after our wedding.
I have to admit that I can’t even remember the number of times that I have thought I was pregnant, come to think of it, probably every single time I have done the deed despite the battleaxe of contraception that I have armoured myself with. When we got married we did not use any contraception for the first time ever, not knowing how long it would take us to conceive.
Since finding out I’ve been a busy bee.
We moved house over a year ago but I’ve finally signed up to a local doctor. Having to hobble over one hour away for an appointment is not a good look. I’ve told maternity services that I have a Wedding Night/ Honeymoon Bun in the oven so will soon have an appointment with my midwife and an ultrasound scam.
I’m six weeks pregnant; my app tells me that this means that our bubba is the size of a chocolate chip. I have a new respect and confidence in my body, look what it has done!!
Our bubba is due on 22nd January. This blog is going to detail my metamorphosis into motherhood.
It has been incredible watching my daughter and my newborn, her brother, get to know each other. A loved him instantly. As soon we worked out how to explain to a 2 year old that ‘mummy has a baby in her tummy that will come out and live with us’ she was smitten. Hours were spent where I was forced to bare my belly as she bellowed ‘Hellooo baby,it’s sister’ at her growing sibling. At Christmas when she got a doctor’s kit her requirement that I allowed her access to my belly went up exponentially as she became a ‘Midwife’ and ‘listened to baby’ using a plastic imitation stethoscope inspired by the countless Obstetrician/Midwife/Sonographer appointments she accompanied me to.
This morning after being woken by her dad she came bounding into my bedroom, completely ignored my loving good morning coos and made a bee line for her ‘kleiner Bruder’ (little brother in German). Honestly I may not be the shiny, exciting attraction I used to be for my daughter but honestly I’m not mad at it. Watching their relationship grow and the bundles of love my first born freely pours out warms my heart in a way I never envisaged.
How have you found watching your children develop relationships with their siblings?
Any tips for helping to cultivate good sibling relationships?
It’s February and Valentine’s Day is imminent. Cue spending a fiver on cards, more on a present that you hope your other half likes, and an even greater sum on a meal in a bustling restaurant along with what feels like millions of other couples.
After 12 years of this debacle, I’m on the hunt for a cheap,unique alternative. Yes part of my motivation is because I am cheap hate spending more money than I have to. But I think that one of the hidden benefits of frugality is that it forces you to be creative, which hopefully makes for a memorable day.
Here are some cheap, fun alternatives to very tired dinner-restaurant valentine’s days:
Do a Dance Routine together
Look up ‘Dance Tutorial’ on your favourite video sharing website and get moving if you both are that way inclined. You could even film the end result and wear cool music video worthy outfits if you wish.
Have a Film night
Get your duvet, hot dogs and buns from your local supermarket and your favourite snacks. You can find DVDs at your local library. There are also lots of free or very cheap movies available online. Home? Food? Guaranteed cosy times? Bliss.
Make a new, exciting dish together
After our recent holiday to Asia we absolutely fell in love with Vietnamese pancakes. This Valentine’s day we are going to try to make them. Not only do we get great food (fingers crossed), we will also learn new culinary skills, work as a team and achieve something novel together.
If you really want to put a Valentine’s Day stamp on what you make, you could also shape your food into a heart shape. Lovely…
Set up a Home Spa
Get some spa-eque rainforest sounds from Youtube, light some candles and give your boo a massage, manicure, facial etc.
To avoid bruises and terror, look up a few techniques and tips before hand.
Get Creative Together
You could do portraits of one another. Get sharpies and decorate mugs. You could also custom make t-shirts (probably just to be worn at home). Any materials that you don’t have to hand, can be easily found in your local pound shop. The only limit is what you can come up with.
Do a Favourite Moments Slide Show
Compile some of your most treasured captured memories and spend an evening reminiscing. This will help to remind you both how awesome you are and may even kindle conversation about your vision for future happy times.
Have a Games Night
Simply get your favourite games out of the cupboard and start playing. To really up the ante you could set up a leader board in which the loser has to do a forfeit.
Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope that in amongst all of the marketing spiel that you feel connected to your loved ones and enjoy your moments together.
Do you have any other cheap, fun date ideas? If so, let me know!
This post was originally published on my other passion project, Cultural Magpie, check it out if you’re into travel, exciting things to do and commentary on all things culture.
It’s almost mother’s day in the US and this has me reflecting on the great impact that motherhood has had on my life. The person that I was when I found out I was pregnant, feels almost like a stranger to me. Being pregnant, giving birth and learning how to be a mother has been one of the most incredible, tough things I have ever done.
Here are some ways that becoming a mother has changed me forever.
I appreciate time so much more now
I find it so hilarious that one of my last exciting pre- motherhood excursions was using a day on my holiday from work,to travel one and a half hours away from my house, one way, just to get food that was twenty five pence. In contrast to that life, where it kind of seems like I had a bit too much time, the other day I managed to go on a ten minute walk alone and it felt absolutely luxurious.
The indulgent days of watching a whole series in one day, whist eating an abundance of junk food are well and truly over!As I look after my daughter full time, her schedule is now my schedule.She wakes up at 5am? So do I. She decides not to have her oh so sweet afternoon nap and instead run around the house? Me too. She is teething and wakes up 6 billion times a night? I am in there!
When I do happen to get time to myself I treasure it. Hold on tight to it and evaluate how best to use it.
I am so much more grateful for all of the awesomeness in my life
I feel like the sleep deprivation and lack of time to look after yourself, that goes with having a baby is like going through SAS training; it strips your life down to the bare minimum which means anything added is noticed and anything good is amplified.
When sleep deprivation becomes standard, having a nap feels luxurious. Having people in my life who get me with no effort and think about my needs before I even have a chance to is such a blessing. Even things that I ashamedly never used to pay attention to like being able to have a cup of tea or having a home with food now make me feel really grateful.
I do not do things that make me feel bad
Probably linked to now having less time, I now do not engage in activities or hang out with people who are good vibe suckers. When I had more time than trees have leaves, I would do things that would make me feel crappy. Yes it didn’t feel great but I had plenty of time to rid myself of the bad vibes later. Now that really isn’t the case. I have to be as emotionally intact and mentally sound as I can be to look after my daughter, so now engaging in things that do not feel wholesome and good is really not an option anymore.
I kind of wish I respected my self and my time before having A but I’m so thankful I got there eventually.
I am so much more confident
Honestly, the idea of giving birth terrified me so much, that I began having panic attacks whilst pregnant ( I’ll probably write another blog post about this). However, when it came to it, it was fine. It was bearable, I survived. Nothing bad happened and a part of me even actually enjoyed labour.
Having A forced me to face a challenge, when I used to be the kind of person who avoided anything that scared or pushed me too far. Giving birth was something I could not run away from regardless of how much I ruminated about it. My daughter was growing inside me and eventually she would 100% definitely need to come out.
Being forced to face this fear taught me how much life can be added to my life when I do the things that scare me.
Going through pregnancy and labour, also helped me to become aware of my body’s strength, abilities and power. My body was no longer something that annoyed me because it didn’t look or act how I wanted it to, when I wanted it to. My body became an amazing, super vessel which could look after me whilst also grow a whole, amazing, intelligent human being.
Now I feel like I had acted as though my body was a scrappy bit of paper, when in fact it was a multi million pound winning lottery ticket.
Have you found that you have changed since becoming a mother or doing something radical? If so, how?
This post was originally published on my other passion project, Cultural Magpie, check it out if you’re into travel, exciting things to do and commentary on all things culture.
To be honest I’ve been putting off taking A to the Dentist for a while.
I imagined crazy screaming and that it would be absolutely unbearable alone, so simply decided that I wasn’t going to do it by myself. My plan was to wait until my husband was free. He has a knack for lovingly encouraging my daughter to do things that she is scared of. Great strategy. But I kind of didn’t check when my husband was free. I didn’t try to co-ordinate his work at home dates with dental appointment dates. In the salsa of toddler life, I didn’t make a Dentist appointment.
Months of procrastination and two whole years of A’s life later, I decided enough was enough. When brushing her teeth I noticed she had a molar coming in which had a flap of skin on it which looked a bit odd to me. She had also had most of her teeth for at least a year.
I booked a dentist appointment for just us two.
To try to prepare her, I spoke to her about the ‘Doctor for teeth’; she likes doctors and has good understanding about what they do.
We spoke about how Dentists are really nice and help to look after our teeth. I even broke my basically zero screen time rule to show her a Youtube video of a child visiting the dentist.
This week we had our appointment.Everything was fine until we got into the Dentist’s room. As usual she keenly observed everything and seemed fine as I placed her on a chair with her favourite toys as my teeth got checked. With my limited vision, I noticed that she watched as my teeth were examined with a mirror and then cleaned. However,when I was done and no longer horizontal, I could see that she had tears in her eyes as she watched me ardently. I think the noise from the cleaning equipment must have scared her; she hates the vacuum cleaner. She may have also been worried about me. She gave me a small, brave smile.
When it was her turn to get her teeth checked initially she did not want to go on the dentist’s chair with me although I managed to coax her onto it. She sat on my lap and did not want to open her mouth. She held ferociously onto ‘baby’, her beloved doll.
Luckily the Dentist was good with children. She spoke to her about looking at her doll’s teeth. She asked her questions whilst managing to get a quick glimpse of her mouth. The dentist explained to me that everything she could see looked great. She also reassured me that the flap of skin on her molar was common when teeth are coming in. The Dentist did not want to push A further, as she was mindful that she wanted her to feel comfortable at future visits. My daughter got a sticker. We agreed that we would try again in 6 months.
I feel bad that I left the appointment so long. A part of me also feels a bit useless, as I did not manage to get A to open her mouth although I know that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.
Seeing the tears in her eyes after I got my teeth cleaned makes me realise that although my daughter is very independent and clever, emotionally she is truly 2 years old and needs my support.
We’ll try again in 6 months. Next time, I’m definitely checking my husband’s diary and will be taking him with us. I’m also vowing to take some time out to schedule fixed appointments for the year ahead so that I do not get distracted by life and book appointments in good time.
Any tips for taking a toddler to the Dentist and getting them to actually open their mouth?
So today it was raining. I sat A on my lap by the glass porch doors and together we took in the weather, as though it was a captivating film. I loved watching her little face beam in awe as the drops slid down the panes of glass and splattered all over the patio tiles. I’ve always appreciated the simple things in life but having a baby has really helped me to see beauty in things that I stopped noticing a while ago.
So this blog post has been in my drafts for 6 months without getting published. This meeting was a pivotal moment for me in how I see my role as a mother and how I interact with my daughter, so I’m going to dust it off and publish it. Lesson learned, I will try very hard to make sure blog posts do not just fester in Open Office.
So today I had a bit of a wake up call. A and I were at baby group; she was crawling around, exploring some books and I got speaking to another mum. Her daughter,who was notably older than A, was an absolute angel and I couldn’t help but watch her in awe. She would play with toys calmly, walk carefully around all of the other sprawling children and lovingly pat my daughter.
She exuded intelligence, great manners and a well developed character. My teacher antenna, which is usually very accurate, calculated that she was around three years old so I was even more astounded to discover that she was not yet two.
I spoke to her mum to try to work out what the secret was.The- not- yet two year old prodigy had older siblings which tends to boost development, however there was something else there. I dug further; her mum worked in early years and used what she had learnt in her job with her daughter.
The pieces of the puzzle seemed to fit but this left me feeling disappointed in my self. I am a Primary School Teacher and have been so for almost seven years, most of my experience has been in the early years foundation stage. For some strange reason I did not think I could do much of the early years stuff I had learnt with A as I am used to teaching those who are at least three years old.
I told the super mum this, she looked me in the eyes and said with her East African twang ‘Do not undermine her, she can learn, just do things at her level’. Now thinking about it, it seems so obvious.
I did begin on the path of at least thinking of using my carefully cultivated teaching skills with A. I made sure I had a copy of the Early Years Foundation Stage guidance for example but I never did anything with it beyond having a flick through and recalling my memories of all of the activities it helped me to plan.
Meeting this little girl today changed all that. I am not going to try to make A one of those kids who goes to university at 10 years old, if that happens great (though I’m not sure if that life so young is so great for social development) but that is not my aim. However, meeting this girl and her mum has made me realise that I need to at least to try to use some of what I have learnt on my own child. Now I feel so silly that I overlooked purposefully using my teaching skills on my daughter. I am not going to make it seem like school, she is no where ready for that and when school comes she’ll have plenty of super structured learning in a pressured environment. However she is now interested in pens for example and pencils to grab them out of my hand as I write. I’ve let her dabble in mark making a little bit but the teacher side of me knows about resources and activities that can enhance her development even further so I will use it.
I have dabbled a bit in activities that have drawn on my teaching skills and knowledge but from now on I’m going to consciously do this.
I have now decided but every week I will focus on an area of development that A seems to be interested in or could do with developing. I will make the activities fun, easy going and in line with her interests. I feel like the ‘new mum, oh my god what am I doing?’ side of me has gone and the knowledgeable, experienced, conscientious Early Years Teacher side of me has emerged out of hibernation. I’m looking forward to looking after my gorgeous A with my teacher brain plugged in a bit more often.
Update on A
Age 9 months and 3 weeks
New skills: Crawling, lifting herself up whilst holding onto everything and anything
Recent i love being a mum moment: snotty, wet kisses all over my face yesterday as she held onto me
Current Quotes: ‘The hand of god can be in our lives in unexpected ways through unexpected encounters’
Becoming a mother has changed me. I don’t have much time for myself anymore so now find myself evaluating what to do with the minuscule moments I can capture.
Before having A, I used to spend too much time with people who didn’t make me feel good. Now I literally don’t have time for that. Spending time with toxic people means I need to invest time in washing all of their crap off of me after our encounter. It is just not worth it or sensical anymore. I don’t have time to see someone then spend even more time meditating their bad vibes away.
I used to put effort in relationships in which I was the only person putting effort in, the only one doing the ‘friendship work’, once again I no longer have time for that. I’m too busy making toddler friendly meals, running after A with shoes that she really is not feeling having on her feet or talking to her in detail about the 65th bird that she has noticed.
I now put proposed activities through a ‘Is it worth my time?’ analysis machine. I am grateful for all of the ways motherhood has changed me and is changing me. Too often I just looked at motherhood as an amazing, sacred experience which simultaneously robbed me of the time to have a simple shower or engage in basic human activities like watching four hours of Netflix (this is me making a joke by the way).
I feel like my lack of time has had the unexpected benefit of forcing me to respect myself more and not engage in things that are not good for me. I find it ironic that having more responsibility and restrictions as I look after my daughter has liberated me in many fundamental ways.
Have you found that motherhood has changed you for the better? Do you think having less time can actually be a good thing sometimes?