Do I love you Sonny boy? Oh baby, mountain deep and river high…

Or is that the other way around? I blame the broken sleep and general drained feeling. January is in full throttle, and so is my son. He’s galloping through milestones and becoming louder and louder by the day. It’s amazing… and bloody exhausting. He’s past the six month mark now and he’s sitting up like a pro and showing the very early stages of crawling. Each new stage brings fresh challenges. The early days were just about surviving while now, it’s about keeping up with his endless demands. He has boundless energy, and now that he’s eating, it’s more work… and washing. It’s still amazing to me that he can go through such an extreme range of emotions in about 10 seconds – from squealing in delight to inconsolable crying. I used to be the emotional one around here…

While he’s overall a really good and fun baby, he’s still a tiny person who can only express himself through crying. That sound, is still like a dagger through my heart. Especially the kind where he wails like you’ve taken away his favourite teddy, or rabbit in Sonny’s case. He’s also waking up in the wee hours to do body pops and throw his dummy out of his cot. He’s still in our bedroom. I’m nervous of putting such a little person into a big room, all by himself. I know modern technology caters for such situations but I like him to be close to me. To hear his shallow breathing, his little grunts, even his snores. To my right, I have my sound asleep husband, who could snooze through an earthquake and to my right, our baby, not sleeping like one. Oh, sidenote – that saying is rubbish.

While I’m getting more sleep, it’s still very broken, I usually see every hour, getting up to use the loo and peek in at Sonny. I’ve been having crazy dreams too, from the bizarre to the disturbed. I dreamt I was Meghan Markle’s bridesmaid and that the dress (a pink satin number – eugh) didn’t fit, it was quite a fun dream – though maybe I need stop to stop snacking on the Quality Street and the sweet remains of Christmas. Then, just last night, I was in some kind of horror movie, although that could have something to do with me watching Bird Box and Les Miserables. Watching anything scary or sad really stays with me and can shift my mood for days sometimes. But we all do stuff we shouldn’t, right?

Having a baby is like a landslide, you don’t recognise the new landscape it creates and you forget about what it looked like before. Every step is one into the unknown, you’ve only got your wits to rely on and no amount of equipment is going to do the job for you. And once you get your footing, another natural event occurs, thrusting you back into uneven terrain. But, as with every ascent, there is a reward at the end, in a rock climber’s case, a stunning panoramic view and in a parent’s case, a different human being. I love that I have the privilege of helping shape the life of a person. I know it’s the most important job I’ll ever do, it doesn’t pay but it’s the most rewarding.

Oh, almost forgot to mention, a tiny tooth is starting to cut through on the bottom. Where’s my helmet?

Morning hair pulls are just the best, and yes, I have no makeup on! He doesn’t judge me, yet.



Mind the bump

I was in the shower earlier (ah the luxury!) and my hand lingered over my soft, still slightly protruding tummy as the suds dripped over it. I absentmindedly stroked it and then realised that I missed my bump. “Seriously?” I thought.

My pregnancy was straightforward, thankfully. I did find it tough towards the end. It was a hot summer and as much as I love the sun, it became a source of extreme discomfort. I went nine days overdue. Two sweeps and nature taking its course and I was in labour. It was hard. The pain was in my back the entire time. I was sobbing as my contractions began. That was nothing. I’ll not labour the point… heh, but it was bloody tough. I was completely unprepared for the pain, despite reading hypnobirthing books in the sun, when I could stand it. I thought I had a difficult labour. My midwife thought it was easy. I was affronted. After being in labour all night, I was told at 8am that I had about two hours of pushing to go. “Never again,” I thought. When my beautiful Sonny was born, I issued my husband with a stark warning. In the first few weeks, getting no sleep, I swore to myself, “never again”. Don’t get me wrong, I adore being a mum and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. But, could I seriously be getting broody for another one?! I think it’s the hormones. There’s no way we consider it at the moment. Plus, I’m nearing my forties. But, it’s crazy how you can do a complete 180°.

Becoming a mum changes you so drastically as a person. But it has made me a better one, at least I hope. I’m no longer preoccupied with my own internal dialogue. Sonny comes first. Always. I’ve found my purpose. I don’t know if I’ll have another baby. Time will tell. I thank my lucky stars I have Sonny. He’s enough, more than enough, he’s everything. Always. 

Baby gone… how The Cry is about every new parents’ nightmare

*Contains spoilers.*

“Of all the things that can happen to a person, there are a few things that could be worse, can you think of any? There are none. And the whole world, they want to look at someone that it’s happened to. Everyone wants to judge, look for clues so maybe it won’t happen to them.” Joanna.

I watched The Cry on catch up after my husband recommended it. Yes, you read right. My husband, who’s usually scathing of TV dramas said “it was quite good. I want to see what happens next.” Hell, me too. I’m completely breathless after the first episode. The Cry is a four-part psychological drama about a young mother Joanna (Jenna Coleman) who slowly unravels after the birth of her first child to a man who cheated on his wife to be with her. She receives little support from her now fiance Alistair (Ewen Leslie), who nudges her in the middle of the night to attend to their screaming infant, and sleeps through a long haul flight from Glasgow to Melbourne while an exhausted Joanna paces the aisle, while dispassionate passengers throw her ugly comments, “maybe you should feed your baby”, one man growls. Even a prissy flight attendant tells her to keep her tiny baby quiet. Once they land, Alistair bemoans over being jet lagged, while a bristling Joanna goes to get him a coffee.

As tired and wretched as she feels, the worst is yet to come. As they make their way to their beautiful beach-view apartment, they stop at a shop for supplies. Alistair goes in, only to be joined in a few minutes by Joanna, who inexplicably has left their baby in its car seat. My hackles rise. “The baby!” I cry inwardly. Surely she will have locked the car though? No. The pair return to the car, Joanna grimly observing a few tins in the carrier bags. Then, Alistair makes the horrifying discovery that their little baby is gone. He runs shrieking down the empty road, while a dazed Joanna searches the car, the magnitude of the situation not really hitting. Then, she feebly shouts “help!”, her cries slowly reaching reaching a painful crescendo, “help!”. It’s utterly gut-wrenching. My hand reaches for my three-month old son’s chubby leg (the same age as Noah) and I feel a cold shiver. It’s horrible luck. There’s no doubt many a devoted mother has released her grip of a buggy to run after an errant older child in a store, or nipped into the house for something with the baby strapped in the car seat in an unlocked car. But, there’s more to it. We see Joanna in the opening scenes preparing for a court appearance. Her sanity is being questioned. There are witnesses lambasting her for losing it on the red eye flight to Melbourne. Surely she wouldn’t have harmed her baby son? There’s also Alistair’s aggrieved ex, the reason he’s taking his family to Australia – to get custody of their young daughter. Could she have something to do with it? And even more odd, at what appears to be a TV appearance to make a plea for their missing son, Alistair whispers matter-of- factly in Joanna’s ear, “do you think you’ll cry?”

Aside from the unimaginable pain of a child going missing, we see Joanna coming apart at the seams before Noah goes missing, with his incessant crying. Although I’ve just been a mum for over three months myself, I judge her, when she falls asleep with her baby on her chest on the sofa. I judge her for keeping her baby in another room with a monitor on. And what do I know? I’m hardly an expert. It’s not just me though, she bumps into a pristine mum on the street who comments that her baby is probably too warm. Even my hubby remarked, “oh, I wouldn’t do that, and did you see when she fell asleep on the bed leaving her baby in the other room?” It’s awful that we’re so quick to judge, as Joanna tells her psychologist in the opening scenes.

It’s a harrowing watch whether or not you’re a parent. I’ll watch the next episode with my husband, as we hold our baby close.

The Cry is on BBC One on Sunday at 9pm.

Image courtesy of BBC Pictures.

 

Chatty mums, bum slapping and hogging a green and yellow tractor – my experience of my first ever mums and tots group

Today I brought Sonny to a mums and tots group at a local church. It’s a rite of passage for a new mum. For me, it was a bit like the first day of school. I joined the procession of buggies into the church hall and, not knowing anyone, sat alone like the new girl. I busied myself with my baby, lifting up toys, (he was taken with a green and yellow tractor), and was soon approached by a friendly woman, who welcomed me to the group. Conversation flowed as I bounced my baby on my lap. When her toddler commanded her attention, another smiling woman introduced herself and we were soon exchanging stories on our respective career paths. Ninety minutes flew by.

Admittedly, the group did more for me than my 14-week-old son who bobbed his head, taking in the bright colours of the toys and the squeals, laughter and chatter of the young children. While every moment is precious, I’m looking forward to when he can interact with other babies and play on the toys. I did, however, plop his bottom on a tractor and placed his tiny fingers around the steering wheel. We were approached by a gorgeous toddler who reached out to signal that he wanted a go. Now, it’s been a while since I’ve had to deal with playground politics so I quickly lifted Sonny off as the child commandeered it. I didn’t think much of it until the same youngster approached a second time to take the above mentioned green and yellow tractor. This time, I didn’t give up the toy. My son’s fingers were tightly clasped to the plastic toy and I too added my grip. The child gave me a steely stare but I held on, softly saying “no”. The little one gave up, running into the arms of his carer. I looked up, wondering if anyone had witnessed the stand off. Nobody had. I felt a little bad for a second, only to be overwhelmed with feelings of protectiveness towards my baby. What will he do if a kid does this to him when he goes to nursery? Will he allow the toy to be taken from him or will he hold his own? I hope the latter.

Before leaving, I brought Sonny to the baby changing room next to a row of toilets. As I bent over to get things from the bottom of the buggy, I felt small hands on my bottom. I stood up in surprise and saw it was a little boy. I giggled and quickly text my husband about the comedic incident. The last time that happened was many, many years ago in a crowded bar – and it wasn’t by a kid. It was entirely innocent of course but it certainly made me muse about my own little one and the kind of thing’s he’ll get up to when he’s on his feet.

I’m glad I went. It was good to meet other mums and it’s good to immerse yourself in the world of little people. Oh, you also get tea and cake, which is always good in my book.

Life is like a theme park – scream if you want to go faster…

I’m no adrenaline junkie. I’m the annoying one with a nervous disposition that is advised against going on high speed, boisterous rides at theme parks. I’m a self-diagnosed hypochondriac too, being anxious is part of my DNA. I guess you could say that it terrifies me to not be in control of my surroundings. That’s not to say I haven’t surprised myself. Giving birth is definitely my greatest physical achievement. Other than that, I’ve clung desperately to my much braver husband on a jet ski while he cruelly delighted in chasing wakes in San Diego. Against my better judgement, I’ve also paraglided, water-skied and floated in the salty sea in Spain (as a non-swimmer) and even went on a rollercoaster at Euro Disney. I had my eyes closed the entire time but at least I did it.

Like many other children, I loved ‘the amusements’ as they were so called in those halcyon days of childhood. I’d giddily jump from ride to ride with flushed cheeks, weak knees and a churning tummy. I threw up, of course, but that didn’t stop me. There were times I’d stagger of the ‘big’ rides and need to sit down, the colour drained from my face, and I’d have to wait until my heart stopped pounding and the world stopped spinning. This was all incredibly uncool, so I made a decision back then that fun fairs were probably not for me, not if I wanted to have any street cred at any rate.

However, at the weekend, I headed to Planet Fun with my husband, son and my brother, his wife and their little ones, one five months, one three and a half. I watched in awe as the older girl gleefully went from one ride to another with her dad. “Again!” she cried when she hopped off a ridiculously fast one, while her poor father was ashen-faced. As for me, I went on the Dodgems. For those three minutes, I felt like a child again and enjoyed the rush of simply just having fun. My adrenaline-junkie husband, who has jumped out of planes and bungee jumped decided to go on what could only be described as an instrument of torture. This monstrosity not only went upside down, but the car revolved manically whilst completing revolutions. Watching it was enough to make my insides churn. When he finally got off, my poor, green husband whispered, “that was not fun”. Will it stop him from getting on another terrifying ride in the future? Probably not.

In some ways, as you grow older, you feel less burdened by things that might have got to you a decade or two earlier. But in other ways, at least for me, you become more anxious about certain things. It’s good to know your limits, but like my little niece, it’s also brilliant to throw yourself at scary rides, and come out the other side, exhilarated and ready for more. In life, it’s OK to stick within your comfort zone, but it’s better to push yourself, go on the big scary ride. It might not be for you, but it will do your confidence the world of good. Adopt a child-like approach to life, feel the fear and do it anyway. I want my son to take chances, even if they don’t work out.  It’s the things you don’t do in life that you regret the most.

 

 

 

 

 

Sonny, I’ve got you babe

I’m on the red-eye shift as I cradle my nine-week-old son with one arm as he sleepily gulps his warm milk, pausing at times to make appreciative sighs before hungrily going back for more. With his ravenous appetite sated (for at least two hours I hope), he melts back into my now aching arm, drifting off to a satisfied slumber. I gaze in a trance-like state at his pink, perfect face, happy that he’s content before realising that I need to burp him. I gently sit my squirming baby on my lap with his back as straight as he’ll allow and proceed to rub and pat until I hear the glorious sound of a burp. He grimaces and squeals, deeply irritated at not being allowed to remain asleep. But, he’s totally reliant on me to help him with his bodily functions until he’s old enough to burp and fart for himself.

Sonny was born on 18 June this year, nine days past my due date. Lazy, or taking after his laid back father, I’m not sure. Thankfully, I had an uncomplicated pregnancy. In fact, it didn’t feel real until my bump started to show at around six months. With this being my first pregnancy, I kept an open mind as to how my body might change. So, apart from a swelling tummy (and boobs), I was relatively unscathed from carrying a human being for 41 weeks. I had a water birth, as per my birthing plan and reluctantly stuck with gas and air despite repeated feverish pleadings for pain relief. Nothing can prepare you for childbirth, it’s really, really tough, but, it turns out, so am I. Furthermore, nothing can prepare you for the love, or the fear, or the indifference of other people who don’t have children. I say the latter because until I became a mother, I’d no clue of what being a mother entailed and how difficult it is (though my dear mother told me countless times as a pouting teenager).

When I was coming up for with the concept for this blog, I knew I wanted it to be inclusive of all women. I’m about womanhood, motherhood and parenthood. I fit into all those categories now. Up until I started trying for a baby, I didn’t consider myself maternal at all. Even now, I’m feeling my way through the dark as I juggle feeds, nappies (so much poo!), bath time, entertaining and comforting. I wouldn’t change it for the world of course.  A very close friend and mum to a beautiful girl told me that the love you feel is like nothing else in the world. I’ve experienced love before of course, but the love you feel for your baby is so overwhelming, so ferocious, that you’d do literally anything for them. I’m a natural worrier and catastrophise constantly. There are so many dangers and you’re constantly bombarded with horror stories online. I remember taking Sonny out in his pram for the first time, I gripped the handle bar as tight as I could, imagining it somehow rolling away from me onto the path of an oncoming bus. Only recently have I started to breath normally and not in shallow gasps. I need to remember that all you can do is your best. Listen to your gut, only you know what’s best for your baby. That’s not to say you shouldn’t listen to advice, my mum is my first port of call for any niggles or worries I have (which are many!). As Baz Luhrman sagely put it, “Worrying is about as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind.”

I hope you’ll join me on my journey through motherhood, as a woman and a mother. I’ll be writing about anything and everything, what terrifies me, what inspires me and what  irritates me. I know there will be many ups and downs, but it’s how you handle the curve balls that life deals you that count.

 

 

 

 

We are family… on holiday

There was a time when going away on holiday required me to plan my outfits in meticulous detail, pairing shoes and bags with jumpsuits and dresses was the biggest stressor. On a girl’s trip to Spain, I was almost charged for excess baggage – before the trip. Yes, as a woman, you have a lot of stuff. When you’re a mum, there’s a heck of a lot more stuff and none of it yours. Last week, our little family headed off to Ballycastle for a short break. Being organised is not an gift that comes easily to me. I have to work at it. So, naturally, I left packing for myself and Sonny until the morning of the trip, despite ridiculous ideas that we’d be set off ‘first thing’. Sigh. Aside from nappies, nappy sacks, bibs, soothers, steraliser, bottles, formula, there’s the outfits. At a tender three-months-of-age, Sonny has a better wardrobe than me. Cute dungarees, cardigans with ears (obviously) and dinosaur-emblazoned tops and trousers were packed, along with night suits, plus extras should he vomit or pee (or worse) during the night. As for me, my priority was my comfy Stan Smith’s, along with my favourite jeans – a reliable pair of boot- cut Levi’s and a few ‘dressy’ tops. Before Sonny, the thought of wearing trainers out to dinner was a major faux pas. Now, the thought of heels is frankly hilarious, why put yourself through it? It’s not to say I’ll never wear them again, obviously, I’ll dust off the Louboutin’s for a fancy shin dig, should I be invited to such an affair ever again. Another unthinkable thing is not having your hair done for going away. I haven’t had my unruly mane coloured in almost a year. In the last month, my ancient straighteners have given up the ghost and haven’t been replaced. These days, my hairstyle of choice is scraped back into a chignon, because it’s less boring than a bun, or if I can be bothered, a French plait. I’m not completely slumming it though, I did make an effort with my makeup. In my eyes, you can go from washed out to respectable with a good red lipstick.

While Sonny is still too little to properly engage with the world around him, he is certainly showing us glimpses of his sunny personality. It’s pretty intoxicating for your baby to squeal in delight when he sees you. Well that or the fact he was writhing on a sheepskin rug. The wee man is certainly taking after his parent when it comes to comfort!

Our holiday was lovely. As well as eating out, a fairly rare treat these days, we also took the ferry to Rathlin island. I’m not great on boats (not a surprise if you’ve read my previous post on theme parks) but I didn’t vomit despite the ferry being tossed about in pretty scary swells. I’m probably exaggerating but it wasn’t pleasant. Sonny, of course, slept through the entire 25-minute journey. However, on the way back, I have to say, I enjoyed it. My poor husband sat inside with the buggy while I sat on a seat, separated from the freezing Irish sea by a just a bar, squealing as the ferry rode the waves. OK, I had a glass of wine to calm my nerves, but I certainly surprised myself.

We made some special memories in Ballycastle. No longer are holidays about getting blocked. They are about making our little man smile as much as possible. My heart swells when I see my husband smile and blow raspberries at our son. Those are the things I’ll remember now, whereas pre-Sonny, most of the holiday would have been spent recovering from the night before.

I can’t wait for our next one…

 

Dx