A Letter To My One Year Old

I wish I could tell you to slow down. To pause for a moment whilst I catch my breath (and catch up). But your endless energy, knowing grin and curiosity wouldn’t let you even if time would.

So here we are, basking in the afterglow of what was your first birthday this time last week. How has it already been a week since your birthday? How has it already been a year? The past 365 days have been an absolute whirlwind, and they have been the best I have ever known. In that time you’ve morphed from a helpless yet content baby into an olive eating, book loving, shrieking and pointing toddler- seemingly in the blink of an eye.

I remember holding  you for the first time, surprised by how small and how light you were in my arms. I remember not being able to sleep the night you were born as you lay next to me, for the sheer adrenaline coursing through my tired body. I was excited but most of all I was completely and utterly in love.

And so with those memories so clearly etched, despite sometimes feeling like a dream, I can’t quite believe that we are now here. Encouraging you to take your first steps. Deciphering yells whilst eagerly awaiting the day you start to say your first real words.

I had no idea whether Motherhood would suit me. I was never maternal but I’d like to think of myself as caring and loving, and as it turns out that’s all that really matters. Still, I was nervous. Imagine starting a new job without any kind of training! But I had nothing to fear. Motherhood has unequivocally been the making of me and that’s all down to you.

Thank you for making the last year as stress free as possible. Even in the womb you were chilled (I will always remember the sonographer asking me to shake my belly to try to get you to move) and along with your sweet nature, you’ve eased me into motherhood without ever making me feel overwhelmed. Not everyone gets to be so lucky.

That’s not to say I didn’t use Google every time you had a temperature or refluxed after a feed, but there’s a lot to be said for trusting your own instinct even when your instinct as a first time parent is practically non-existent at the start.

I look at you now- strong-willed, determined with an unapologetic mischievousness – and I can’t quite believe you are the same person whose head I was worried I wasn’t supporting properly, or who spent his nights sleeping in a baby box. Now you wake me up in the mornings by crazily crawling around in your cot as if to say “Come on Mama, it’s a new day!”

But it’s bittersweet. I already feel you becoming more independent and self-assured, quick to get cross if either of us tries to help you  because you’re adamant to learn on your own. And even though you are still very much a boob man, I know there probably isn’t long left on our breastfeeding journey (I’m letting you decide when you’re done) not to mention the preparations we’re making to move your cot into your own room in time for the summer.

No one told me that a birthday could be so emotional. But also full of promise. What wonderful, exciting adventures lay ahead of you…

Every day you surprise me with something new. Like when you blew raspberries against Papa Bear’s shoulder (for a solid 5 minutes) or when you problem solve a new toy super quick. Not to mention how impressive your dexterity is. And with that comes an overwhelming pride and joy in watching you grow.

Of course it’s not only you that’s grown in the past year. I no longer fumble with nappies and become flustered when undressing you at the Doctor’s. I’m a pro at navigating public transport with a pram and somehow we’ve created our own language in which I know from a look, cry or shout what it is you want (a good 90% of the time anyway).

I had always thought of myself as patient and empathetic but these are qualities you’ve only heightened. I no longer have time for negativity or anger or to let tiredness dominate the day. And when I see it written down like that, I’m kind of blown away by how much you really have changed my life.

In you I see the best we can be. And I see an already kind, bright and beautiful baby whose future hangs above us like the night sky. What stars you’ll map and align we’ll have to  wait and see, but oh how they’ll be lots and oh how they’ll shine brighter than we could ever have imagined!

And that fills me with more excitement for the future than sadness for the year that has now been and gone.

To you our loving, ever-smiling, head-bopping, beautiful son. How lucky we are.

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2018- New Year, New Goals

First post of a new year!

January, that time of year for self reflection. Resolutions set in order to make changes that will hopefully make us happier and healthier people, and I of course am no different.

2017 was an exceptional year (and will be a tough one to beat) as it brought Ored and I our bright, beautiful, kind, nosey- and let’s not forget- noisy babe. Motherhood has given my life more meaning than I could ever have imagined, but it has also made me hungry. For the first time in my life I’m starting to think of the future and what that means for our family, because there’s nothing quite like the refocus you have once you have a child.

Maybe you could call it a movie lightbulb moment (ding!) because suddenly, with total clarity you realise just who/what is important in life and who/what doesn’t deserve a second thought. And so I’ve entered the New Year with a spring in my step determined to achieve my goals and make 2018 a year full of love, happiness and success.

  1. Get in front of the camera

It’s difficult to admit but I have struggled with my post pregnancy body far more than I thought I would. It’s not a question of weight, it’s just that everything is different now. My old clothes may fit like a glove once more, but now my face seems a little…off and my hips still seem adamant to show just how wide they had to be to carry a babe…

And so if I’m really honest, this has played a big part in avoiding being photographed. Despite holding our son, I’d actively grimace whenever anyone dared to point a camera in my face and utter the word “smile.” Looking back I’ve come to realise that, rather sadly, I’m the only one missing out. These moments of babyhood will be gone in the blink of an eye and when I’m 60 looking back at photographs, it’ll be hard not to notice how little I appear in them.

So as of now, I’m making a promise to get in front of the camera. No matter how bad my hair may look or how terrible an angle Ored is taking them from. And guess what? The above photos were taken on the 1st so I’m already off to a good start!

2. Exercise

Since turning vegetarian last July my diet has never been better. I can now say I actually cook from scratch (hurrah) and even Ored is more involved in the kitchen, relishing in making homemade pesto. Opting for a baby lead approach to weaning meant that as a family, we all had to be on board, sitting together, eating together and making mealtimes a fun, but healthy, experience.

But having a baby on in my hands 99.9% of the time leaves little time to do anything else and so exercise has fallen to the bottom of that never ending list all parents – but especially Mamas- have of ‘things to do.’

And so it’s for both health and post-pregnancy confidence that I’m vowing to incorporate regular exercise back into my life, be it walking, running or swimming.

3. Write

I made significant headway with freelance writing before falling pregnant. I managed to keep the blog relatively up to date and at the tail end of last year I embarked upon writing my first novel (6,000+ words and counting). But the momentum has slowly ebbed and I know I have to pull it back before I find myself back in that most feared and loathed of spots- writer’s block.

4. Read

I love books and whilst I’m devouring a ton of children’s novels (its something we really enjoy doing as family before bedtime) I’d quite like to read some for myself again. Every year I always set myself the completely unrealistic goal of reading a book a week, and so fail miserably. So now I’m aiming for a book a month, utilising the evenings or breastfeeding sessions instead of being on my phone/tablet (can I add using less technology as a 2018 resolution?) But I’m flexible. Even if I only read a book every two months it’ll still be significantly more than last year!

5. Try something new

I’m lucky enough to be in a position where I don’t have to return to work once my maternity leave finishes. That said I’d love to find something I could do working from home that allows me to be creative whilst spending time with Little Ored. Who knows what will be this time next year- but I’m excited to find out!

6. Be kinder

To myself, to others, to the planet.

So here’s to 2018- may it be a wonderful, magical year for us all!

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#THANKYOUMIDWIFE

Time has a funny habit of playing tricks on you, because going into labour and giving birth to Little Ored seems like it was only yesterday and yet it already feels like a very long time ago. Some bits I can remember with complete clarity, others are already a bit fuzzy but I’ll do my best to finally share my labour experience!

Why? Because Pampers UK have launched a fantastic campaign encouraging parents to thank their Midwife/Midwives for the hard work and support they provide during what is arguably one of the most incredible and life changing moments we’ll ever experience (if also completely terrifying). And for every #thankyoumidwife that is posted on social media, Pampers have promised to donate £1 to the Royal College Of Midwives so let’s spread the love!

I was ten days overdue and by this point my already ridiculously huge bump had somehow managed to find the space to grow even larger. I was beginning to feel uncomfortable and for the first time in my pregnancy, I was starting to feel anxious. I had already had one sweep which had failed and whilst the midwives at Eastbourne Midwifery Unit were busy planning my next one I was busy listening to the relentless ticking of the metaphorical clock because time was running out. As EMU is solely run by Midwives there are lots of procedures in place to ensure a safe labour and delivery for both Mum and baby, and so in order to birth there I had already had to meet a list of criteria that deemed me low risk.

And so the longer our baby made us all wait (“I’m way too comfy in here. Deal.”) the more I was becoming a high risk. If this second sweep failed, I would have to be induced and give birth at a hospital which isn’t what I wanted. EMU appealed to us because of the fact it’s run by midwives, with an emphasis on one-to-one care with little to no medical intervention. Partners are even able to sleep overnight in individual rooms with Mum and baby, maximising that initial bonding time as a new family. In short, it was exactly what Ored and I wanted. Giving birth on a hospital ward was not.

So when the second sweep rolled around I was visibly concerned, so much so that the midwife carrying out the procedure said to me, “I know it’s hard, but the more you worry and the more stressed you make yourself, the more baby will pick up on it.” And I knew she was right. Anxiety is completely counterintuitive when you’re trying to encourage a little one to leave the safety and warmth of the womb, where they’ve been quite happy for the past nine months, and enter the big wide world! As much as I desperately wanted a pool birth, I knew that as long as our baby was delivered safely, it didn’t really matter where we were and so I left it to our unborn babe to decide. What would be would be.

Sweep completed, we did as we were told and went for a brisk long walk. Well, at least Ored did- I waddled behind! Nighttime came and went and still nothing, so we went for another walk in the morning and I can remember talking to my bump pleading, “I know I said I only wanted you to come when you’re good and ready, but we’re just so excited to meet you!” Yet still there was nothing.

As I complained of chronic back pain (what I later realised were the first signs of early labour) I contemplated what it would be like to be pregnant forever– only for my waters to break. Four hours later I was lying in the birthing pool, exhausted yet feeling like a firecracker (never underestimate the power of adrenaline) as they handed me our baby.

Yes it really happened that quickly, so quickly that I never had time to mentally prepare myself for what was about to happen (i.e pushing a baby out of my vagina) because it WAS happening. So thank God Ored and I had Denise. Overseeing our delivery from start to finish, which meant staying long after her shift had ended, Denise was the calming, reassuring and encouraging presence we both desperately needed. Because for all my relaxed, take-it-in-my-stride approach to life (not to mention Ored’s quip that I’m “tough as old boots”) when the pain takes over, panic sets in. All of a sudden you wonder, “can I do this?” Denise was there to make me believe I could, not just that I had to.

And the care from the midwives that Sunday evening didn’t just extend to telling me when to breathe and when to push. It was showing me how to help little Ored latch during those first tentative attempts at breast-feeding. How to dress him and put his nappy on. Demonstrating how to bathe him the next day. And when we left, how to put him in his car seat safely. Oh, and let’s not forget the thousand and one questions we asked not only during our overnight stay but for the next month, calling EMU whenever we found a rash, a raised temperature or anything else that scared the crap out of first time parents.

For this, both Ored and I are eternally grateful to the team at EMU. And whilst the words thank you will never seem enough at least the #thankyoumidwife will hopefully go some way to showing the midwives and the NHS just how much we value you. Because quite frankly, we couldn’t push these babies out without you!

 

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