Week of firsts

It’s been a week of firsts for us this week, the most recent one is that we’ve taken the sides off Monkey’s cot just yesterday so it’s her second night sleeping in her big girl bed at 18 months old. I’ve just nipped upstairs to check on her again and she’s sparko, with her legs akimbo and arms behind her head. Statistics so far for night number one:

minutes spent getting her to sleep: 90, times fallen out of bed: 0

and for night two:

minutes spent getting her to sleep: 75, times fallen out of bed: 0

She does seem very little to be out of the cot already, Princess was almost two before we did it, but we’ll see how she goes. She was starting to try to climb up the bars and she loves to creep in with Princess for cuddles so I think we are hoping that we may get a bit longer in bed in the mornings if they entertain each other, we can but hope!

Princess had several firsts last week, it was Children in Need on Friday and her school encouraged the pupils to dress up as their favourite superheroes and donate some money. There was absolutely no debate in Princess’ mind as to who she would be – Elsa from Frozen of course. I did dispute that Elsa isn’t really a superhero, although admittedly she does have superpowers she doesn’t do anything heroic, but there is no arguing with a determined 4 year old (and it saved me having to make a costume :-P).

"Elsa"

“Elsa”

On the same day Princess also had her first ever school disco, which was also a magic show, I was so excited for her and I wasn’t even allowed to stay! I think it was a little glimpse of the future, dropping her off at a disco full of excitement and giddiness, luckily she’s a long way off being interested in boys. She had a great time with her best friend Francesca, they got a balloon modelled into a dog shape, had a dance to Gangnam Style and the magician had a purse that was on fire!

Anyway, back to the littlest one and her bedtime shenanigans. When I was pregnant people told me that second babies are much better at sleeping as they are used to the noise and disturbance of the older sibling, well clearly Monkey didn’t get that message, even as a tiny newborn she was an incredibly light sleeper. We were in the middle of packing up to move house so the living room was full of boxes, but in the middle of the room we had a swing and a bouncy chair and I would eventually manage to get Monkey to sleep, swaddled, cuddled, with a dummy in, carefully placed down, only for her to wake after 15 minutes. Unfortunately our new house has bare floorboards upstairs that are ridiculously creaky, and I’m still practicing my ninja moves in exiting the bedroom without setting any of them off. We have classical music playing in the girls’ room to drown out any background noise and I’m too scared to try getting her to sleep without it. Still now Monkey will have more disturbed nights than sleeping solidly.

Princess on the other hand slept through the night at 12 weeks old (hooray 🙂 ) although it didn’t last (boo 😦 ) and I have vivid snapshots in my mind of me obsessively rocking her in the Moses basket as a tiny baby, cuddling and swinging her in my arms before gently trying to sneak her down into the cot, doing the gradual retreat thing inching slowly towards the door, and one particularly bad night where I brought the pram upstairs into our bedroom to try and get her to sleep in that.  Oh and there was the two week period where me and Bigmac were having to sleep on the floor in her room on alternate nights as she was not sleeping at all!

Anyway, roll on the teenage years when we expend a lot of time and energy trying to get them out of bed instead. Actually I don’t really mean that, I know that all the nighttime cuddles and sleepy heads on my pillow at 5am will be one of the things that I miss when they don’t happen any more. In fact I might have to go and have another look at their sleeping cutie-pie faces right now…

All the small things

I’m back, phew it’s been ages, I’ve been so busy for the past few weeks I’ve barely been able to collapse on the sofa watching Australian Masterchef before bed, let alone writing a blog post. Firstly I survived the girlie road trip to Manchester, me, my sister, Princess and Monkey had two nights away, the first night all sharing one bed in a family room of a Premier Inn. Actually lots of fun and briefly fulfilled my co-sleeping fantasies, sadly I’ve never managed to persuade Bigmac to do away with our bedframe and just go for a load of mattresses, duvets and pillows on the floor, so this was the next best thing.

"the megabed"

“the megabed”

Just as an aside, we do part time bedsharing with Monkey as the girls share a bedroom so in a bid to maximise everyone’s sleep we bring Monkey in with us at different hours of the night, whenever she wakes up. Invariably Bigmac protests more than I do as the default sleeping position seems to be the “Roundhouse Kick” position from this funny blog

Baby Sleep Positions

Baby Sleep Positions

Anyway, we saw friends and played in the park and had lovely food, we got through the driving with a ton of snacks and endless playing of the Frozen soundtrack, and mostly slept well, it was great!

The following weekend I went to stay in a cottage for a couple of nights with three friends from work, and it was bliss, consisting of wine and talking and cider and chatting and walking on the beach and gin and planning our exit from the NHS and wine and crosswords and tea and lie-ins (and a little bit of missing the girls and Bigmac).

And then this weekend me and Bigmac went down to London for our first night away together in nearly two years. For his birthday I had bought him tickets to see The Herbaliser but it was going to be a late one so we decided to book a hotel. It was really lovely to spend some time together and have a boogie, and then we got to do some shopping in Camden before getting the train home to our girlies 🙂

I had a thought that what I need to record in this blog is the little snippets of life that are hard to capture, that feel significant in the moment, but are easy to slip away as time ticks on. Even thinking back over the four years of Princess’ life so far, it is easy to recall the days out and the holidays, things you can take a photo of and so on, but not the funny little moments in between. Princess is in a great stage of life where she is learning so much at school and is so excited by it that it spills out all day in little snippets, so last week they had been learning about the origins of bonfire night and fireworks, Princess told me in all seriousness “they put a pretend man on the fire and his name is Sky Forks”. The first couple of days back at school after half term she was obviously missing being at home with me and was saying she didn’t want to school. I tried to explain that I would get in trouble if she didn’t go to school and as the conversation continued I said I could even go to prison for it (bit harsh I know but we had been talking about jails recently), her reply? “Well that’s okay because Daddy would still be at home to look after me”!

Monkey is 18 months old now, and we’re starting to see some mega stroppiness happening as she clearly knows her own mind but cannot communicate it to us. She is also learning so much, particularly new words, Bigmac surprised me last week when I came home from work and he got Monkey to count! I didn’t know she could do it, but apparently he has been counting to her at every nappy change, so there she was in her highchair at the table going “one, two, three”, her favourite number seems to be “NINE” which she shouts with a massive toothy grin on her face, like this one…

toothy grin

toothy grin

Together they have had some very sweet moments too, they have only just started properly interacting with each other and playing together in a way that you can see developing over the next few years. Yesterday Princess was pretending to be a cat, so was crawling around meowing and letting Monkey stroke her, then chasing her around making each other laugh. And at bedtime they have a big cuddle in Princess’ bed before they go to sleep and it is adorable to watch. What special little things have your little ones been up to this week?

Sad post warning!

I feel bad that I missed the day itself, but this post is my dedication and contribution to the ‘wave of light’ (Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day 15th October)

candles

It’s not something that I talk about much even though it’s often on my mind, but I have had two miscarriages and I want to honour the babies I didn’t get to meet by writing about them here. I know I still haven’t got round to telling the birth stories for my two gorgeous girlies, but I fell pregnant very quickly with Princess so when she had not long turned one we thought we’d start trying for baby number two.

Myself and Bigmac had talked about it a lot as many first time parents do, when is the best time to have another baby? what is the perfect age gap? how long will it take for us to get pregnant again? The only thing we had agreed on was that we didn’t want their birthdays too close together (Princess’ is August), Bigmac was pushing for waiting till after Christmas before we started trying but I was feeling massively broody and managed to persuade him to get on it earlier!

What I hadn’t counted on was that no matter how clueless you are first time, second time round you just know more (like where in your cycle you are) so it wasn’t as laidback and carefree as I tried to make it, desperately counting the days before I could POAS*. However within a couple of months we were expecting another baby, due 1st July 2012, and were so excited. It didn’t take long for us to make plans, we worked out that my 12 week scan would be just before Christmas so we could put scan pictures in cards for our family. Princess came two weeks early so we thought there would be a couple of months between their birthdays, a 22 month age gap, so would need a double pram, and I’d worked out when they would both start school and be entitled to free nursery hours.

However I started bleeding a few weeks in. The Early Pregnancy Unit at the local hospital were really lovely when me and Bigmac went in to be assessed and I cried all over them. Unfortunately, despite an internal scan and examination, there was nothing to be done but go home and wait. I couldn’t stop the phrase “I lost the baby” going round and round my head, I blamed myself and felt it was my fault, even though I knew that wasn’t the case. I took a week off work but felt undeserving of the time off and I really struggled to process my emotions, I forced myself to watch sad films to make me cry as otherwise I wouldn’t let the tears out. I had some lovely support from friends who brought flowers and my Mum (who isn’t great with words but fab with gestures) gave me a little silver tealight holder which I lit in memory of my baby. It was tough on Bigmac too, I encouraged him to stay at home so we could support each other in our sadness. But I also belittled my feelings by telling myself I shouldn’t be so sad, that I was only 6/7 weeks pregnant, others have it much worse (one of Bigmac’s work friends had recently had a full term normal pregnancy but had given birth to a baby already sleeping), etc etc.

I went back to work and we got on with things, it definitely helped having Princess to run around after, she started walking and generally keeping us on our toes. The hospital had advised waiting for 3 cycles before trying to fall pregnant again, although I’d read things online which suggested you can be highly fertile straight after a miscarriage, presumably to do with hormones. Anyway we fell pregnant again in January (I was again obsessed with pregnancy tests, secretly weeing in supermarket toilets and shopping centres!), due on September 25th 2012, but pretty much straight away I started spotting. I didn’t think it was too significant as it was nothing like the previous time, but after a couple of weeks I phoned the hospital for advice and went to see the GP. This was one of the real low points for me, the doctor was really dismissive and basically implied I had imagined the whole pregnancy and blamed the makers of pregnancy tests for making them too sensitive. This echoed similar words of my mother in law who was telling me about someone else having an early miscarriage and said “i don’t know why she’s upset it’s just like a heavy period”. The next day I started bleeding heavily and knew it was all over.

I was even harsher on myself this time, I felt so stupid for letting it happen again, and embarrassed that others would think we were foolish for trying again so quickly, so didn’t really allow myself to grieve. And the thing is I think it is just as valid to mourn a loss early on in a pregnancy because as soon as you see the two blue lines you start your life as an expanded family, imagining how it is going to be and picturing all the significant moments that you expect to have. Anyway, I clung on to what positives I could (I still fell pregnant easily, my body worked out that something was wrong with the baby, and physically if not emotionally it resolved quickly), and allowed myself longer to recover. Needless to say when I had another positive pregnancy test, the day after Princess’ 2nd birthday, I was petrified and it lasted all the way up until Monkey was born.

I’ll finish with a Dr. Seuss quote, and just to say I’m not wanting any sympathy from this post, I just wanted to put it out there to acknowledge the babies I lost and still feel sad for.

dr seuss

Big hugs to those who have experienced similar or worse, I’ll go and give my girls an extra squeeze to remind me how grateful and lucky I am. (And I promise my next post will be a happier one!).

 

*for those who have not got obsessed in the online support of TTC (trying to conceive) and it’s abbreviations, that is ‘pee on a stick’ or home pregnancy test

waffling on

I’m feeling a little giddy right now, and I’m putting this down to the high volume of caffeine I had today (the last mocha I had possibly sent me over the edge!), the fact that it is my day off tomorrow, and a general sense of excitement. I have never really acknowledged until now that actually I quite like autumn – I love summer, sunshine and hot days splashing about in a paddling pool, although my Celtic roots mean that my skin doesn’t love it so much, and winter for snow and wrapping up warm. However I’m now seeing autumn as a warm up (or cool down) for winter, my 4 year old has reminded me that the leaves turn into her favourite colours of red and brown, and I turn into a child myself every time I see a conker, and have gathered all the big juicy shiny ones into a vase for the 1 year old to play with, hours of fun sorting them into egg boxes and muffin tins 🙂

Anyway, we have already had some cold dog walks where we have rewarded ourselves with a hot chocolate and a snuggle under the blanket when we get home, and I have decided that now it is October I am officially allowed to start thinking about Christmas (yay!). Like every other parent in the world, since becoming a mother I have been able to direct my excitement for Christmas into my children, rather than the progressive disappointment every year that I was unable to recreate childhood Christmases as an adult. As we don’t have loads of money it is good for us to start buying now so we can spread the cost over a few paydays! I’m excited that this year Monkey will be more aware of what is going on and will be able to open presents and play with the contents, and surprisingly Princess has not yet started on the endless “ooh i’ll have to ask Father Christmas for that” at every commercial break on the telly, which is a bonus. Last year was our first Christmas in our house and we turned the play room into a grotto of tacky deocrations that I’m sure will be done again this year!

However, before Christmas we’ve got half term in two weeks time, which is starting to feel long overdue, I can’t wait to have a whole week with my little munchkins. Bigmac has to work the first part of the week so I’m going to brave a ‘girlie road trip’ (just me and the girls) all the way to Manchester to see friends, I love a challenge and thrive on adrenaline, ha ha! I’m also going to have another first at the end of that week, two nights away with some work friends ALL BY MYSELF! In the 4 years since we had our eldest daughter I have had one night away when Princess was about 18 months old, and not at all since we’ve had two kiddiwinks. I suppose both these things give me mixed emotions, I’m excited but nervous about the road trip, and I know I will miss my family when I’m away without them even though I’m looking forward to it. Story of my life I think, destined to feel torn now I’m a mother! It’s also Halloween that week, which I generally don’t celebrate or do anything for (oh, except carve a pumpkin) but is a good excuse to dress the girls up, every year of her life so far Princess has been a pumpkin, but this year she already has a witch costume. She doesn’t understand the trick or treating thing, but is so excited to have people come round our house and us give them sweets!

Oh, as I wanted to use this blog as a way to record things here is an update on Monkey at 17 months old. In the past couple of weeks she has learned some new words, “hug” (an order), “get down” (a request), “Josh” (another boy at the Childminders), “ding dong” (self-explanatory). When she’s tired or in need of cuddles she will ask for her dummy and cuddly rabbit – “dum dum” and “bun bun”, and she has become adept at shaking her head! The most heartbreaking thing is that every morning as we’re getting ready for school or work she goes to the cupboard to get her shoes and jacket on, as she is so desperate to do what her big sister is doing, poor old sausage.

walking to school

walking to school

Princess is still enjoying school, she is learning phonics and has a new letter every day, ‘o’ yesterday and ‘c’ today, complete with little rhymes to help her remember how to write the letter, “round the apple and down the leaf” for ‘a’. She is pretty pooped by the end of the day and I think she will enjoy half term as a break from the new routine. She has also learned how to use her new micro scooter as the steering completely threw her to start with, now she’s an old pro! Right, sorry for waffling on, the caffeine is wearing off and I think I need to head to bed 🙂

The juggling act

Blimey! I can’t believe it’s been a week since my last post, sometimes life is so hectic. My other half has been away on a stag do all weekend, one of my closest friends had an operation on her back on Friday which I took her to and then visited with the girls after school, and one of our other friends is moving and having a stressful time so has been round a lot. Add to that bringing up two small children, cooking, housework, walking the dog, and working three days as week as well, phew! Oh and I had a night out on Thursday for a mate who’s leaving work to move to Wales 🙂

I don’t know how other people manage it, particularly with more than two children. I think I just about managed the juggling act this week, I managed to spend some decent time with both girls separately (painting with Princess while Monkey napped, playing with Monkey while Princess did some drawing) and together at the park and in the garden, which is sometimes easier said than done although ultimately is what it’s all about in my eyes. I succeeded in getting some boring housework jobs done, cleaning the bathroom whilst Monkey was in the bath, weeding and hacking back the ivy in the garden getting the girls competing picking bits up to go in the compost bin. Work was a little chaotic, funny moment when I discovered my work mobile had sent about 50 texts of smiley faces to the Mum of one of my clients, luckily she didn’t seem to mind or think that I had lost mine!

What I struggle with is changing my head into each mode, am I being Mummy now? Loving girlfriend? Entertaining friend? Responsible psychiatric nurse? I can’t be all at once and I find they spill over and I end up sending emails to work on my Mummy days, chatting about family stuff with my friends at work. I have learned to write everything down somewhere, and I love lists (I’m one of those people who add things to a list after they’ve done it, just to be able to cross it off). I don’t like myself very much when I mess up the balance, I’m on such a narrow tightrope that when it goes wrong I tend to blow things up, the worst is when I get shouty with Princess generally over a minor thing. I’m trying hard to work on it, I always apologise and we talk about things a lot (given that she’s only just turned 4). However, once evening comes and Princess and Monkey are snuggled up in bed, I can switch my brain off and veg out in front of Bake Off or X Factor preferably with some sort of chocolate treat that I have kept hidden from prying eyes, that’s what I’m going to do now (shhh, don’t tell!)

Baby cuddles

Sorry it’s been a few days since my last post, I’ve been busy with work and Bigmac’s birthday celebrations. Since going through a load of Princess’ baby photos to find one for this post I’ve been feeling nostalgic (so what’s new?!) so I think I’m going to tell the birth stories for both of them soon, it might take me a while, but everyone loves a birth story right? Maybe it’s just me hahaha!

While I’m busy composing that I thought I’d share this picture

57eede5d2550a3192147f519806f594a

as it sums up my feelings about’ sleep training’ or ‘crying it out’. My heart hurts when I think of babies or bigger children being left to cry due to misguided advice, if a child is upset they need to be comforted, babies live in the moment and if they are distressed it will feel like the end of the world to them until they can get back to their safe place with Mummy or Daddy. However, just to qualify, I’m actually typing this downstairs in between running back upstairs to try and settle Monkey, and I get caught up between desperation that I NEED her to sleep and my instinct which is to cuddle her. I think second time round it’s a bit easier to trust your instincts and know that whatever it is you are struggling with is a phase which will pass, and I think now that Monkey is 16 months I can gauge what she needs a little better than when she was a newborn. For example, she has milk and cuddles before going in the cot, sometimes she likes to have her face/ hair/ back stroked, sometimes she likes to just have company or have her hand held. If she’s not sleepy enough she sometimes needs to have a cry and a shout and kick her legs around before she’s ready to be comforted, but then her big sister talks or sings to herself before she falls asleep so I guess it’s the same kind of thing.

Anyway, I’m not sure what the point of this post is, but if a new (or not so new) parent reads this or sees the Peggy O’Mara quote and gives their baby an extra cuddle that’s alright by me!

big girl or baby??

Just a quick one this morning while Monkey is sleeping. I’m confused as to how my big girl Princess seems to be getting younger! Hmmm, so she was a baby (obviously) then a toddler once she was walking (again, obviously), but then we brought Monkey home when Princess was 2 years and 8 months old and instantly she became a big girl. To the point where I was suddenly desperate to get her out of nappies and stop her using her dummy.

Luckily Princess decided she was no longer going to wear nappies a couple of months later, and we managed to lose the dummy (“buddy”) when she turned 3.

So this has been fine, she’s been my big girl ever since and Monkey is my baby. However, now she has started school she suddenly seems little again, not big enough to be wearing uniform, and every night when I go and check on her before I go to sleep, she looks like my baby again. How has this happened eh??

Princess at 1 month old

Princess at 1 month old

First day of school!

First day of school!

Sneaky baby

I took the girls to the park today with my sister and her husband and we had to stop Monkey eating the wood chips off the playground,  it got me thinking I should make a list of all the non-edible items she has consumed so far in her 16 months in the world. So starting from when she first crawled and could get to wherever she wanted to go she has eaten:

  • paper (any kind but particular preference for toilet paper)
  • soil (helps herself from the plant pots)
  • a bead (from her sister’s bracelet – green)
  • a stone (out of the garden)
  • a tiny rubber shoe from a doll
  • two hama beads (blue and purple)
  • numerous lumps of playdough
  • an entire stick of lip balm (I haven’t confessed this to Princess as it belonged to her, oops)

And just to be clear these are things that have actually been ingested, I could probably add another list of things that we’ve fished out of her mouth! However in my defence, she’s really sneaky and quick, and I must have been distracted drawing princesses and horses for her big sister at the time. Am I a bad mother? Anyone else’s baby as devious as ours at getting things in her mouth?!

Free time

I had the morning to myself on Wednesday as Princess was at school till 1pm and Monkey was at the Childminder’s. As an aside I did have a dilemma about whether to send her, it seemed extravagant and a bit mean, but I’m normally at work on Wednesdays and she enjoys it there, so I thought I would enjoy some very rare child-free time. And do you know what I did? Housework, flipping housework! I hate housework, all of it, I hate the fact that it’s so pointless with two little ones and a dog and a messy man. But alongside the usual washing up and hoovering I tidied up the shoe cupboard. Now this is worrying me, particularly as last week I organised my Tupperware drawer and matched all the lids to the pots, and I got a bit ruthless in the garden at the weekend, pulling up weeds, hacking back massively overgrown plants, making way for some new flowers and bulbs. Hmmmm, I feel like I’m nesting which is NOT helping my broody-ness (broodiness? is that a word?). Aaaaarrrrgggghhhh!

It got me thinking, or rather reminiscing, about life before children, and how I filled my time. I honestly cannot remember what I did with my time, other than I was working full time of course. I know when I was pregnant with Princess I had a definite sense of life as we knew it ending, we finally got round to doing jobs in the house that weren’t baby related like tiling and decorating the kitchen, as I felt like we would never have time to do it again (about one of my only predictions that was actually true!). The things I miss the most are the ability to be more spontaneous, I recollect regularly ringing Bigmac after work to say “what do you fancy to eat tonight?” before popping to the shop on the way home, or going out for dinner. Imagine that! Life before planning out meals to save money and knowing there is stuff in the house for two hungry girlies to eat. And weekend mornings, waking up at any time we liked (lie-ins being a major fantasy of mine, I don’t think my two will ever sleep past 7am*) and asking “what shall we do today?” before…just…going. No hours of packing bags with nappies/wipes/toys/snacks/drinks, getting teeth and hair brushed, clothes and shoes on everyone, wees done and out the door before anyone takes any clothes off again, trying to restrain everyone in the car whilst running back in to grab all the bits we’ve forgotten or Monkey has pulled out of the bag. Phew!

Anyway, I do sometimes find myself feeling (dare I say it?) jealous of friends without children, but even writing that sounds harsh. It is such a fleeting emotion and the bottom line is I love my family with all my heart, before I became a Mum I could not imagine that all-consuming feeling, and now I cannot imagine my life to be any different. So I’m happy that most of the time we live in mess and chaos, and when I do have some child-free time it’s such a novel experience that I don’t know what to do with myself and end up organising footwear!

 

*I am aware that for some 7am IS a lie-in and I am grateful that mine mostly sleep through the night too.