Sunday, 27 March 2011

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Friday, 25 March 2011

How did you introduce 'charity'?

When I was little I wanted to change the world, a little Lisa Simpson in the flesh.
It was all so simple to me back then, why can’t everyone just share what they have? Then no one would be poor, no children would go hungry and everyone would have a house. Or, even easier, why don’t the banks just print more money? Simple, right? A humble solution in my infant mind.

My thoughts then turned into actions.

I stopped eating meat when I was 10, although mum made me eat chicken… ‘You need protein, you’re a growing girl’ she used to say. This was a radical decision after my brother insisted on singing ‘lamb chops, mmm mint sauce’ every time we drove passed a field of sheep, to my horror and annoyance.

I sent my football shirts to Africa (yes, I was a tom boy for a while, who’d of thought it?) and sent shoe boxes of presents to others at Christmas time.

But then you grow up, and realise that life isn’t so simple.

You get caught in your own world and ego and before you know it you’ve cancelled that £2 a month you’ve been giving to Oxfam since you started your first job, as you need it for beer money. You start eating meat again as it’s the easy (and cheaper) option when you move out of home. And Christmas becomes all about the presents (received, not given). This was me.

Then, in my early twenties I went travelling, (in a non-posh ‘gap year’ sort of way, I was 23).
I had been working full time for 5 years and decided that I had missed out and needed an adventure.

I wanted to go to Thailand, and whilst looking through the options of beaches, sunbathing and drinking tours I found a volunteering trip, the supressed Lisa Simpson from my youth was overjoyed.

So I went, on my own, and joined a group of other likeminded (mainly younger) volunteers.

We lived in an Echo house together in a province north of Bangkok called Sing Buri. There, we went on weekly assignments to help the local community. Including teaching at a primary school and building at an orphanage.

Don’t get me wrong, I did the beach bit too, went to the full moon party and had some selfish fun, but it is the 5 weeks I spent in Sing Buri that I will always treasure the most. Seeing the smiles, the politeness and the kindness of children who had no parents, no home and little else, will always stay with me.

Two years later and I’m now the proud owner of a beautiful baby girl, and since her arrival, I have pondered on how to impart morals, empathy and kindness as she grows.

With the recent earthquakes in Christchurch and Japan, and the Comic Relief campaign in full swing, it really brings home the need and importance of charity.

I do believe that charity starts at home, but it doesn’t have to end there.

I’m the first to admit that, other than my half selfish trip to Thailand, I haven’t done much for others since my Lisa Simpson days of past. Like everyone else, these are hard times. We’re saving for a wedding, days out and maybe even a holiday in the next few years.

I don’t think we should all give up on our day to day dreams and treats for our family. I will feel no shame in, one day, taking Belle to Disney World, but moving forward, I am going to start supporting a charity again, even if it is a few pounds a month.

I hope that Belle will grow up to appreciate what she has, be grateful, humble and charitable where she can. But how do we encourage this in our children?

At Christmas Belle was only 6 months old, but I ‘forfeited’ the cost of one of her presents and instead bought an Oxfam ‘unwrapped’ gift for the value of feeding a family on her behalf. I plan to do this every year, a small gesture, but I hope it’s benefits will be two fold. Helping a charity and teaching my lovely daughter to be grateful and giving.

I’d love to know what you do to encourage gratitude with your children and how you introduced the much needed action of ‘charity’.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Yes... real tears!

I promise I won't do this a lot, I'm normally a very positive person but... I need a moan!

As you know, the sun has been shining gloriously this week, so yesterday I grabbed some bread, a friend, two babies and headed for the riverside. A perfect sunny day combo.

After a brief encounter with one very large, hungry, swan (there's always one) we ran for our lives we headed over to the park.

The little ones in question are only 7 and 9 months old so the height of parklife for them is the swings, held tightly by both mummy's.

They were loving it, Belle so much so that she was making very strange, loud, noises as the swing went back and forth, not embarrassingly so, but attention grabbing from other mums none the less. I could feel the stares.

As it was such a stunning day the park was busy, so, not wanting to hog the swings, we went to move on. Belle had other ideas, and as we moved away she throw the biggest tantrum.

She's a baby, it was her nap time, I don't really think it was about the swings, nether the less, she had a melt down.

As we gathered our things (me quite frantically) and started to leave the park I heard one mum say to another... 'oh dear, real tears and everything!'

Real tears? Yes, she's crying, what does your child cry? Fairy drops? Sunbeams? Rainbows? Well... mine cries tears! Real ones!

I was so upset. As mums we should be able to relate and support each other right? Not judge, stare and whisper in a park. I'm probably being over sensitive but this lady really got to me. I know Belle is quite a noisy baby but she's happy, beautiful and loved.

I've discussed Belles crying in older posts (we made in to the parachute) and talked about how she's getting better. But yesterday really took me back to those early weeks where I didn't leave the house as I was scared of people judging this clueless new mummy with the crying baby.

Right... Sod you judgey lady... I'm getting a grip now. Rant over! :)

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Liebster Blog Award and Sharing the Love

I was kindly graced with the Liebster Blog Award this afternoon by the lovely Mummy and Beastie (go check her out, she's lovely).

It’s for people with ‘little’ blogs (less than 300 subscribers) to share blog love and spread the word.

The rules are:

1. Post displaying the award (tick), linking back to the person who awarded you (tick)
2. Choose your own blog picks (tick) and let them know they’re awarded (to Twitter I go)
3. Hope everyone discovers some new favourites
4. Revel in the blog love!

These lovely ladies all have amazing blogs that are well worth a follow... Not sure how to tell they have less than 300 subscribers though, so don't be offended ladies, I just think you're FAB!

Curly & Candid
The Wonderful World of Tillie
No More Disco
The Wicked Mumma (keep going, you rock!)
Amy on the Prairie


Thursday, 17 March 2011

We made it to the parachute - Yay!

Love them or hate them we've all attended a 'baby group'.

My local one is called, Babygrowz. Lots of nursery rhymes and bubble blowing rounded off with the grand finale that is, the parachute.

I've been lucky enough to meet some amazing mums, that are now firm friends, since Belle's arrival. We all attended Babygrowz together after having a 'taster session' in our first time mums group. (they know how to get you don't they, sign up here sleep deprived, vulnerable mummy's) 

Belle was the crier of the class. Yep, you know, there's always one and she was mine

I was that flustered new mum, dropping things, scrambling through changing bags, getting myself in a state, trying everything to calm her down. Stressful.

So, after 3 months of tears and tantrums, we never made it to the parachute at the end of the class. By that point I'd either be standing in the corner rocking her, sitting at the side feeding her or had just given up all together and had made a sharp exist out of there.

I was never embarrassed by her crying, just frustrated that she didn't want to be the happy, smiley little baby she was at home.

I really envied the other girls with their calm, quiet babies and feared that they judged my ability as a mummy.

I decided to stop going to Babygrowz just before Christmas. It seemed silly to be paying for the 10 minutes we were enjoying.

This week, one of the girls got in touch and asked me along for another go. Assuring me that, as the rest of the group had now started teething, babies were crying left, right and centre. So we went along, fingers crossed. (not for crying babies though, honest)

The first hurdle was the 'sit and listen' session.  They put on classical music and the babies are supposed to sit nicely and listen, for TWO WHOLE minutes, ha ha. Belle had always moaned within, erm, 10 seconds beforehand, but... she did it, two complete minutes of silence.

Time flew and before we knew it the class was nearly over. My friend shot me a smile from across the room, we had made it to the parachute!  I was so proud of my little girl, and Belle had loved it.

If at first you don't know the rest ;) 

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

An ode to mummy blogging

A month ago today I started to blog,
to share, to review, to go the whole hog.

I became a mum, of which you can understand,
this is what we have in common, supporting hand in hand.

I was lost, confused, in need of a boost,
my personality, my humour was missing, aloof.

Then the words came and I wrote them to share,
revealing my story, true feelings I bare.

So thank you mummy bloggers, I’ve found myself again,
a mummy, a woman, now also a friend. 

Right, must get a grip and stop being so soppy,
I’ll go back to being me, all witty and boppy.

An upbeat mummy with tales to tell,
of the bogies, pooh and tantrums we all know so well.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Pink or Blue?

I was delighted this week when a close friend of mine announced she was pregnant after years of trying.  She was soon round for a cuppa, completely glowing, to show me her scan pictures... me? broody? never! *cheeky smiles*

She asked me what my advice would be about knowing the sex of the baby, a decision she needed to make before her next scan.

I felt proud, I could finally impart wisdom and experience on a friend who, older than myself, I had always looked up to as a big sister.  She had always guided, advised (and mainly teased) me growing up, but now, I could help her.

I hadn't wanted to find out if we were having a pink or blue bundle at first, or a burger or sausage as I've heard some refer to it as (yuck). I had always imagined the moment would be a surprise. James, on the other hand, couldn't wait to find out, to give our little bean an identity before even meeting them.

So, one of the happiest moments of my life happened at my 18 week scan, still in Australia, we found out, we were having a daughter. I was over the moon.  Don't get me wrong, I would have been happy either way, as long as baby was healthy, but wow, a little girl, I was so excited.

I told my friend how we found that discovering the sex allowed us to bond with Belle even more. We named her, bought girls clothes for her, decorated her nursery (pink rosebuds, very girlie). It also helped James feel more connected with her, he could see her as a little girl not just a 'bean'. I've always thought that women become mothers from the moment they know they are pregnant, it's nature, where as it must be so much harder for men to feel that bond, we found that knowing her sex really helped.

So that was my advice (the first bit of 'grown up' advice I had ever imparted) but what would you have said? Did you find out you were having a boy or a girl? Are you glad you found out or did you regret it? I'd love to know...


Thursday, 10 March 2011

Tuesday left a bad taste in my mouth, literally...

I spent Tuesday at the Agenda for Later Life Conference in London. Why? Well, one of my clients sells disposable medical instruments so I was there to help them out with their PR, oh the glamour of being a freelancer. I was picked up at 5am, yes that's right, 5am, and returned at 7pm. As I normally work from home this was a shock to the system, made greater by Belle waking up at 1.30am with sore teeth. Stupid evil teeth, hurting my baby, it was as though they knew I wasn't going to get enough sleep that night, grrrr!

Anyway, it was a busy day and I missed Belle like crazy, I'm sure she didn't feel the same, she was having a wonderful time with Nanny K.  I returned home just in time for bed, so I got a cuddle in, and off she went.  Being the prepared sort of person that I am (ha) I had made a shepherds pie the day before so I wouldn't have to cook.  I wasn't too hungry, due to the massive amount of conference biscuits consumed that day, so James heated it up, polished it off and put the dish next to the sink.

I went into the kitchen later in the evening and spotted the dish.  The edges were glistening with that crunchy cheese crust that gets stuck to the sides, plus a few little bits of meat, yum, I grabbed the wooden spoon inside the dish, scooped round the edge and promptly shoved the load into my mouth.  Hang on a second, that tastes like.... ahhhh WASHING UP LIQUID!!!  Yuck Yuck Yuck... as I was retching James came in pointing and laughing like a five year old.  After declaring my hatred for him I rushed upstairs to clean my teeth several times.  Seriously, if you put washing up liquid in a dish, you then fill it with water, surely!  Who just shoves washing up liquid in a dish and leaves it! Who?  A man, that's who! ;)

As they say, you should always learn from your mistakes, and my learnings are three fold. 1. Don't ever work a 14 hour day after 4 hours of broken sleep. 2. Stop being such a fatty boom boom, scraping off leftovers is not a good look and 3. Always assume that men, even the wonderful ones, generally only do half a job!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The 'baby birthing warrior' that wasn't

DIY daddy
30 weeks and nesting
30 weeks pregnant... nursery decorated, baby shower attended, pram purchased... next on the list, antenatal classes.

We attended NCT classes. I went in with no preconceptions or preparations, birth plan, what was that? I left feeling like a baby birthing warrior, sent on this earth just to give birth, a baby delivering super hero if you will. Hospitals? Doctors? Pain relief? Who needed that stuff? My body is built for this, I'm young, I should be doing this naturally.

My mind was made up, NO pain relief, NO doctors, I would have Belle at the midwife led unit in our local hospital.  

I was woken on the morning of the 26th June with major pains. I'd experienced small pains the day before, but this was it, she was coming.

After 8 hours of ball bouncing, deep breathing and bath soaking at home we decided, contractions 2 minutes apart, we were close.

After observation I was told I'd have an examination but they felt I was about 8cms from the strength and times of my contractions.  The birthing warrior inside me was overjoyed. I was so proud. I had done this, got this far, all by myself, as nature had intended.

The examination commenced...1/2cm...1/2cm dilated! I can not even begin to describe the heart aching disappointment I felt that second. But my inner birthing warrior was still present, so I continued, unaided, for 8 more long hours.

My waters still hadn't broken so they decided to break them for me after several uneventful examinations, I was still only around 4cms. I will never, ever forget the look on James' face when she did.  Shock, horror and disbelief all rolled into a reassuring smile, I knew him, I knew something was wrong.

I was rushed into the delivery suite quicker than I could say 'baby delivering super hero', from that second the birthing warrior was no more, it was taken out of my control.

Belle had been in distress, so we were hooked up to a heart monitor as the pain started to become unbearable. She was back to back in position.  More agonising hours passed and gas and air became my friend. More hours went by. Faces looked worried. More doctors appeared. A needle was used in several places. The heart monitor was making noises. The inner birthing warrior had turned into the frighted, 25 year old girl I truly was. In the mirror I could see the numbers on the heart monitor... dropping, dropping, getting higher, dropping again. The faces got more worried and panic filled the air. James was amazing and did his best to reassure me, but all I could see were those worried faces.

It was decided, I needed a c-section. I was heartbroken. I had watched so many births after my classes in preparation for this magical moment, birthing my first child. I got a grip, it needed to happen. At least I could still see her, still have skin to skin with her straight away, feel her against me the moment she is was out. James was sent to get scrubbed up.

I was alone, without my rock. Suddenly the faces changed from worry and concern to complete fear as the monitor made different noises. A piece of paper was shoved under my nose, I was asked to sign it. The comforting soundtrack that had been my daughters heartbeat was removed and within seconds I was being wheeled away, silence. James hadn't even come back into the room, we passed him in the corridor.

It was the silence, I couldn't hear her any more. It was worrying hearing the ups and downs but the silence, hearing nothing at all, I thought they had run out of time. I remember thinking 'wheel me quicker, hurry up!'

Face to the ceiling I could see people entering the room, lots of people. I closed my eyes. I sensed a doctor over me, I don't know what he said, but within moments I was gone.

4 hours later I woke up, and there she was in her daddy's arms, wrapped in a pink blanket. She was Isobelle Rose that day, later changed to Belle Rose. My daughter, my perfect, beautiful daughter.

We were one of only 6% of mothers and babies that suffer from a short umbilical cord. We were told that she had gone as far as she could have and was therefore in such distress as I tried to push her further.
But all was well, apart from a slight misshapen head, she was perfect.

In hospital still with Daddy
And so we were home, a new family, but why was I feeling guilt? Why was I feeling as though I had missed out?  I beat myself up about not delivering her 'properly' and was angery with myself that I had missed out on those first 4 hours, they had been taken away from me.

With time, the guilt surpassed, and I enjoyed being a first time mummy. The anger turned into joy, pride and thankfulness.  I was so lucky and honoured to have a healthy, beautiful baby, however she was delivered, it didn't matter.

I do wish I hadn't put so much pressure on myself to have 'a normal' birth. I shouldn't have been so insistent  on something that is so unpredictable. External pressures on first time mums are immense, every birth, baby, and pregnancy are different, there shouldn't be so much pressure to do any of it a certain way. I get angry when I hear people in the media talk about c-sections as -'the easy option' and the notion of  'too posh to push', some of us just didn't get the choice.