Ready, steady, go mamma! Why motherhood requires the discipline of an athlete.

If eating was an Olympic sport I’d win gold several times over. I’ve never been sporty, I’ve never had the coordination skills. I was always the last to be picked in netball at school, seeing a ball hurtling at me as something to dodge. My spatial awareness is awful, which probably explains why at almost 40, I still haven’t got my driving license.

That said, I do find watching women’s athletics quite thrilling. There’s a certain pleasure that comes from wearing your slobbiest tracksuit bottoms and hoody watching supreme female athletes throw themselves at various tortuous obstacles. OK. I’m just a bit envious of their taut, goddess bodies but there’s some entertainment observing their scowls when they don’t quite meet their expectations. Women, no matter how supremely skilled, how much they are admired, are so hard on themselves.

It’s the same as motherhood. We’ll always second guess ourselves, always compare ourselves to the ‘perfect’ Insta mum. It’s mostly bull. As a mum who uses social media in her career, I do hope I offer a real side of motherhood. While I follow beautiful accounts, I know they’re not real. They are carefully thought out, composed, editing software used. Motherhood is really difficult. It’s not all chubby pink-cheeked babies grinning in their pristine outfits. Every day is a marathon. Every day is beset with hurdles, sprints to stop your toddler from getting in the washing machine, hauling laundry up and down the stairs. Wiping up poo, regurgitated food, wiping streaming noses and big, heavy tears.

Every day is your eyes on the prize, getting your baby or toddler to bed and putting your feet up with your reward, a hot cuppa and chocolate bar or a big glass of red wine. That’s your medal, for getting through another day of motherhood relatively unscathed, ready to face another race the next day. Yes, mammas, it takes hard work, it takes grit, it takes patience, it takes determination. You know though, you’ll get there in the end. You’ll cross the line knowing you’ve given it your absolute best.

There will be so much to savour along the way.  Watching your child totter into their first day of school, their double-digit birthday, their formal or even going to university. Parenthood is for the long haul. It’s a marathon and the only way you’re going to get through it is with fierce discipline and blinkered vision.

Keep going mamma, you’re a winner, every day. Oh, and you did awesome Katarina Johnson-Thompson. Enjoy basking in your glory. You deserve it. 

Lemme at it!
And the gold pot goes to….

A wONEderful year of Sonny

It’s hard to believe how much my life has changed in just one year. There’s no question that becoming a mother changes you, your priorities, your life. It’s a heady mix of sleepless nights, frustration, anxiety and unequivocal joy. For the first time in a long time, the stars are perfectly aligned. The trajectory of my life has changed. I know good things are coming.

He’s a star boy.

There’s a saying that children keep you young. I’ve always wondered how that can be, surely having children ages you?! That may be the case but when you have a baby, but certainly, you see the world through different eyes (albeit with bags under them).

Everything is new to a baby, everything interests them. They have no fears, which is why they often do themselves a mischief – on a side note, Sonny is a little headbanger – he should really wear a helmet. Yes, there’s much you can learn from little people. They see the world with wide-eyed innocence – free from any constraints, social or otherwise. I think you have to see the world through a child’s eyes – to truly appreciate life. Yes, we all have our war wounds from heartache and disappointments but it’s so exhilarating to look at the world with fresh eyes, excited for the future.

My little love.

Over the past twelve months, I’ve seen my son (it still feels so strange and so lovely to say that still) transform from a tiny baby to a gregarious, fun loving little boy. Every day is a big adventure for him. There is something so joyous about seeing your beautiful baby smile, eyes clear, wide and bright. You look forward to the future, seeing your child grow up and become a strong, confident woman or man. It’s been 373 days since I became a mum and I have a million reasons to be happy, to be the best mum I can be and to achieve everything I want in life. By far, Sonny is the best thing to happen to me and I want to make sure he gets everything he wants in life too.

My love, my life.

I really hope you are enjoying my journey into motherhood and parenthood. It’s been lovely having you to share my thoughts with. I hope you will stick with me while I navigate the early years, the terrible twos (and threes and fours). I’m learning each day, just as my baby is. And I know the best is yet to come, for both of us. It really is a wonderful life.

Looking to the future…

I’d love to hear your feedback, or anything you’d like me to write about. Just let me know. Davina xx

Photo credits: Trazanne Norwood @experienceboudoir

10 ways your life changes when you become a mum

You take on the most difficult role of your life

It’s long hours and there’s no pay. You’re surviving on your instincts and it’s hard, so hard. There’s little respite when you go to bed, as you’re constantly alert. You live and breathe your new job and you get very little thanks, especially in the very early days. But, it’s so, so rewarding.

You worry less about your own problems

This is actually a good thing if you’re a champion ruminator (like me). While self-reflection is good and healthy, it’s not good to obsess about every bump in the road. Having a baby means you put her or him first and there’s less room for your own worries and niggles.

You avoid drama like the plague

I remember the days that I thrived on it. Now, I shudder thinking at the frivolous things that used to preoccupy my mind. It’s part of growing as a person, but the only place you want to see drama is on Netflix, not your life. Once you cut out unnecessary worrying, you’re left with the important relationships in it and no bull.

Your social life dies

You might be up into the wee hours but you’re not wearing a bodycon dress and clutching a large glass of vino while teetering on killer heels. But, amazingly, you don’t miss it. Hangovers are a thing of the past. Believe me, a screaming baby and a sore head is not what you want to put yourself through. When you and your partner do get the very odd night to yourselves, you’ll spend the entire evening talking about your little monster, erm, angel!

You’ll have little to no disposable income

Money. You used to treat yourself on pay day, now the baby aisle is your go-to destination on every supermarket trip (and sometimes the household cleaning aisle). One of the plus side’s is that you can dress your baby up in a vast array of cute/silly outfits. You gotta to get your kicks where you can, right? Soon, they’ll cringe at the thought of you dressing them.

You don’t care (or care much less) about your appearance

Looking presentable take so much effort. A mum’s uniform should consist of a t-shirt and leggings. It’s comfort over style every time. Besides, you’re going to be covered in food, regurgitated milk, vomit and drool at the end of every day anyway. I’m not a complete neanderthal though, I still love wearing makeup and nice clothes on occasion. It’s good (and important) to feel like you every now and then and you’ll feel and look amazing when you have your face on.

Your immune system will takes a serious beating

Carrying a baby for nine months takes its toll. I’ve no idea how I got through the first six months on virtually no sleep and ding meals. It’s important you do look after yourself, as best you can. Invest in a juicer, meditate and ask for help. I’ve felt crap for the past month, but it’s forcing me to pay attention to my diet and mental health, which is a good thing.

You’ll know the true meaning of exhaustion

Imagine feeling constantly hungover. That’s what the first year of your baby’s life is going to feel like. This could get better or worse depending on your little darling. You might get lucky with a ‘good sleeper’ but prepare for onslaught of sleep deprivation. It ain’t pretty and you will probably count on one hand went you get a decent night’s kip.

Hey, it’s not all bad…

You are the centre of your baby’s world

It’s good to be needed. Despite what it seems, your efforts aren’t going unnoticed. You are looking after a little human being, who will grow up to be a big human being, who will touch the lives of many people. That’s pretty awesome.

You’ll experience the greatest love of all

You will feel many extremes of emotion as a mother. From frustration to desperation to pure and utter joy. But, the most incredible feeling of all is love. There is no love purer or more ferocious than the love you feel for your baby. You will literally do anything for them.

Having a baby changes you beyond recognition – it also changes your relationships. But, parenthood is an incredible, beautiful, terrifying journey but it’s also so much fun.

Bite-size first aid for mini-sized humans

When you have a baby, every fibre of your being is geared towards protecting your precious little bundle. It’s a natural instinct, but sometimes you need a little help in knowing what to do in an emergency. It’s utterly terrifying to think you’ll ever need to use first aid, but it could save your child’s life.

Having come across Mini First Aid on Facebook, an invaluable resource for me as a writer, I immediately knew I wanted to do it. Now, while it would be beneficial for Sonny to know what to do if I trip myself up, or knock myself out on a door frame, (I’m incredibly clumsy), this course is about protecting your little one, obvs. There isn’t a certificate or qualification at the end, something far more valuable – knowledge, which is priceless.

If the face is red, raise the head. If the face is pale, raise the tail.

Let the learning commence!

Run by friendly and very knowledgeable coordinators Ruth and Jodie, the two-hour course was held at Whalley Fine Art Gallery on the Belmont Road. A small group of people, mothers, fathers and grandparents attended. The course comprised of a number of important topics including CPR, broken bones, burns, choking, head bumps, bleeding, febrile seizures and even spotting the signs of meningitis.

Be forceful if you know you’re right.

The course opened with listing the items you would have in a first aid kit at home and some of the contents may surprise you. Interestingly, a credit card is also ideal for removing bee stings. Who knew? CPR was next. It’s definitely not something you want to dwell on. But, if you your baby isn’t breathing, would you know what to do? Jodie used visual aids and did demonstrations. The floor was opened to anyone who wanted to try CPR on the baby and child manikins. I tried CPR on the baby manikin and it’s nothing like what you see on Casualty. There is a technique to it and I found it really beneficial to practice. There is also a well-known children’s song that you can do compressions to. Another section I found very helpful was dealing with choking. As I prepare to wean Sonny (he’s almost six months!), I’m terrified of this happening as babies can choke on pureed food too. At least now, I’ve a good grasp of what to do until professional help arrives.

Let’s face it, accidents happen. From boiling pots, hot straighteners, even hot running bath water, danger is everywhere. I was alarmed to be informed that a baby can be burned by tea after 20 minutes. One thing that was put impressed upon was that, even in an emergency, you should remain as calm as possible. You won’t be any good to anyone if you panic. Also, always, always trust your instincts and go with your gut. Be forceful if you know you’re right.

I was worried that Sonny would play up  during the course but thankfully, he entertained the group with regular burps, yawns and epic grunts. I should have been mortified but you have to see the funny side. I’d definitely recommend this course for new mums or for those who’d like a refresher in first aid. It would also make a thoughtful and potentially lifesaving Christmas gift! And don’t worry, children are quite resilient, so don’t be rushing off to wrap them in cotton wool, which incidentally should never be used on burns! 

Sonny keeping himself entertained.

For more information and to book, visit:

http://www.minifirstaid.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/minifirstaidbelfast/

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.Β  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.Β  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 whatΒ  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.