Baby’s Virtual Cousins – online birth groups!

Before I got pregnant, if you’d told me there were communities of women who found out they were pregnant at the same time and formed a group and a friendship on the basis of this, I’d have given you a look like this –

dafuq

I mean – it’s stupid, right? How can you forge a friendship with women you don’t know, who could be anywhere across the UK or even the world, and you have nothing in common with them other than the fact that you procreated successfully at a similar time? It just doesn’t happen.

Well, then I found out I was pregnant. And shy, scared, little old me poked my head into the ‘Due in May’ group on Mumsnet (Netmums was too glittery and cuddly for my liking, and don’t get me started on Babycentre), and I asked for a little bit of advice.

Almost two years later, I am Facebook friends with most of the women who responded to my terrified posts in the early days. I have met many of them. Our babies have shared an afternoon of playing together, with plans for more playdates in the future. We’ve exchanged Christmas presents, birthday cards for babies, and more advice, laughs and tears than I care to recall.

I can’t describe the comfort I take from knowing that when I’m struggling with anything – whether it’s relationship, work, university, motivation or just plain poo talk – there’s a community of friends who will listen without judging. If I’m excited about something, they’re the first to hear about it after my family. I have no doubt that when D and I try for a second baby, they’ll be the first to hear about it – and when we (fingers crossed!) get that positive test, I’ll be telling them weeks before we announce it to the world!

All through pregnancy, we shared everything. Morning sickness, tiredness, glowing, NOT glowing, cravings, worries, sad times and happy times, scans and stresses and family problems and worries for the future. Some shared with us the moment their waters broke. I kept everyone updated with a minute-by-minute (at times) account of my induction and eventual labour. They were the first people other than myself, D and my mum to see a picture of SB, shared with them in the wee hours of the morning after her birth.

They support me, and I try my hardest to support them. I can’t stress enough how important they’ve been – after SB and D, they’ve been my greatest inspiration, my biggest motivation to finish university. After my mum, they’re my parenting role models – I aspire to be as good a mum to SB as they are to their lovely children.

More than anything, I love that no matter what happens in the future, whether we stay in touch or not, SB will always have fifty virtual cousins, scattered across the UK and the world, and they’ll always have that connection. We have shared in the first years of their lives, and they have shared in ours, and even on a computer screen, that’s a bond that’s pretty difficult to break.

Tots100 MAD Blog Awards

Everything’s changing…

Apologies for the quiet spell – everything around me has suddenly changed, and when I come home in the evenings, as soon as SB is asleep, I’m crashed out on the sofa. Now that it’s the weekend, I can post a quick update!

With the exception of the one essay I’ll be handing in on Monday (if I can get the damn thing finished), university is done! That’s it, I’m officially no longer a student mother. It’s the end of an era, but it hasn’t really sank in yet. I still think of myself as a student, I think – so now that’s gone, I’m left wondering who I am. I’m ‘just’ a mum, right? Or still a young mum, technically, but that student part of my life is officially finished with.

And I now work! I have a job, and I’m really enjoying it. It’s not what I did my degree in, but it’s a job with the potential to become a career, and I get to talk, which is really what I do best (getting me to shut up is the hard part). It’s a lovely place to work, it’s a supportive, friendly environment, and I’ve only just started my training yet I already feel part of it. It’s exciting, but the long hours mean I’ve had little time to blog in the evenings!

We’re all having to adjust. SB will be finishing nursery for the summer soon, and then D is taking on my role from last year, and will be taking care of her while I work. I know a lot of people are taking the summer off, with maybe a part time job to bring in a little extra cash, but for me, it was easier to just get right back into it. I finished university last Saturday, and started work on Monday – I didn’t want to get used to doing nothing, only to suddenly throw myself into work and it be a shock to the system. The job came up at such a great time, and now we’re in a really good position.

I do want to turn this blog into more of a guide on surviving as a student parent (especially now that we’ve done it and all), so that will be coming soon, along with more of my series of posts on what it’s like to find out that you’re pregnant at 19. These will be few and far between, because after seven and a half hours of typing all day, the last thing I want to do is come home and be glued to my laptop, but I do enjoy writing them, so hopefully we’ll have posts coming fairly regularly.

Thanks for sticking with the blog, this journey has been such a long one, and I can’t wait to look back at where I was eighteen months ago, with the uncertainty and questioning whether I’d finish second year, let alone graduate, and now thinking to where I am today. It’s been absolutely crazy, too stressful for words, but rewarding beyond belief – and now here I am, straight into the world of work.

If there’s one thing you cannot say, it’s that young mums lack work ethic.

Top 10 Pieces of Advice For Student Parents

  1. Tell your lecturers early. Obviously this only really applies if you get pregnant while you’re a student, but I’ve proved that it happens, so this advice still stands. It can be terrifying, having to tell your lecturers that you’re pregnant – I remember sitting in the office, having asked all three of my lecturers for a meeting, and begging them not to shout at me. They were lovely and so supportive, and have remained supportive throughout pregnancy and having a young baby. I’ll never be able to thank my lecturers enough for the support and understanding they showed me at a time where everything was so frightening.

2. Learn to manage your time. This is something all students could do with learning, really, but it becomes all the more important when you’re a student parent. I know the temptation is that when your child is out or asleep, to have some ‘you’ time and relax, GET YOUR WORK DONE! It’s the only way you’ll manage it without having random strings of nonsense letters turn up in your essays, because your kid has slammed a sticky chubby hand on the keyboard repeatedly when you weren’t looking. Writing essays while your child is awake – not easy, and not advisable!

3. Research your financial situation. Information on benefits is not easily accessible for students, as the government has very little information available for student parents, and the Citizens Advice Bureau were fairly useless (in my area, anyway). I highly recommend going to your actual student finance website (I’m hoping that in a few months time, I’ll be able to put together a handy guide to what you can claim as a student parent. Student finance does offer assistance with childcare, and extra money if you are a student parent (lone parents, or couples where both parents are students, are entitled to even more). You can also get child benefit, child tax credits, and in many cases, housing benefit if needed. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to claim these – remember that you’re doing a great thing in getting your degree, and this is just help to keep you afloat while you’re doing so.

4. Ignore the judgmental people. There will be people who’ll judge you for getting pregnant while at university. There’ll be people who’ll judge you for being a student parent (these same people would also judge you if you dropped out of uni to care for your child). They’ll judge you for using childcare, they’ll judge you for getting extensions on your assignments, they’ll judge you no matter what. The only advice I can give for these people is to ignore them, and be happy in the knowledge that when you finish lectures, you get to go home and cuddle your child.

5. Get involved in university life. This can be easier said than done, when your life outside of uni revolves around parenting, but still try and enjoy a student social life! Whether that means leaving your child with your partner/a babysitter so you can go out for the evening, or whether it means joining a lunchtime society or sports team, it’s important to have a good social network at university.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be a martyr – you’ll only cause yourself unnecessary stress. If you need an extension, or help with your assignment, or even just a shoulder to cry on, ASK! People want to help, and will do their best for you. It could be the difference between passing and failing uni, and may certainly be the difference between finishing uni with your mental state intact or not.

7. Don’t be a baby bore. Your kid is amazing, and no-one’s going to argue with that – but, rightly or wrongly, people will start to drift away from you if the topic of conversation is 100% baby, 100% of the time, even if it’s the cutest child they’ve ever laid eyes on. It’s important for the sake of your own identity to remember that you are an interesting person in your own right, and your conversations don’t have to be just about nappies and amazing new skills and the cute drawing they made for you last night – it can be about your hobbies and interests too.

8. Don’t be afraid to talk about your baby. This one kind of contradicts the last, but it’s all about moderation. Don’t hide your kids away like they’re a dirty secret. Students seem tough and young and too cool for children, but sometimes even the toughest will melt at an adorable picture, and laugh at a story of what your kid’s gotten up to now. There’s a time and a place for it – figuring out when and where is key.

9. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Shit happens. We all know it! So why, when we don’t hand in an assignment on time, or don’t get as good a grade as we could have done because we were up all night with a teething toddler, do we still act so hard on ourselves? We’d go easy if we were ill, or our computer broke. It’s like there’s a little reasoning process in our heads, that tells us that nobody forced us to have a baby, therefore we deserve no slack for not always being on top form. Newsflash – we do. We’re raising a human at the same time as finishing a degree – not only are we pretty fucking epic, we’re also deserving of a little understanding, empathy and self-worth now and then!

10. Enjoy! Despite everything people will warn you, and all your own preconceptions, student parenthood brings with it a raft of fun and happy moments. Looking back, some of my favourite moments on my course have involved SB. Three of my coursemates were among the first people to visit us in hospital after she was born! She was a major part of my final video project for one module, and had her first ‘taste’ of performance when she was still a little 5 month bump, and I was in Little Shop of Horrors as part of my course. Being a parent hasn’t detracted from my uni experience at all, but it has added to it so much.

Mummascribbles

Right now, we’re loving..

we're loving

Decided to try something new on the blog – a round-up of the products, places and people we’re loving at the moment!

Mummy is loving…

  • Simple Micellar Cleansing Water. Stress, lack of sleep and the make-up I use to cover up that lack of sleep can only mean one thing – SO MANY SPOTS. Most make-up wipes leave my skin looking red raw, and cleansers feel oily and thick – this micellar water is the best of both worlds; removing my make-up and keeping my skin feeling great. There’s no smell to it at all, so no nasty chemicals, and Simple is a brand I love anyway.
  • Primark. I’ve had to get some smart clothes for job interviews lately, and Primark has been a godsend, with a collection of clothes that are perfect. Their collared jumpers are my particular favourite, but I was able to go in today and pick up a capsule wardrobe of smart workwear for so much less than it would have been elsewhere.
  • Annie. We watched this film earlier (the remake of the classic musical), and I was expecting to feel a bit ‘meh’ about it – after all, musical remakes can be hit and miss, can’t they? But this film is brilliant! Feel-good, very funny, well-acted and Cameron Diaz is an excellent Miss Hannigan. Well worth watching!
  • Carte D’Or Eton Mess. Wow. All I’m going to say is WOW.

SB is loving…

  • Her SmarTrike. She got it for her birthday and loves it, we’ve taken it out once or twice but she had a whale of a time being pushed around the flat on it yesterday! We got ours from Toys R Us, it’s definitely worth it and great as a first birthday present! The steering is so light and easy, it looks comfortable and safe, and has great storage bags for parents!
  • Raspberries. It’s the ultimate quest, trying to find a fruit that’s small but not a choking hazard, easy for a baby to handle and feed themselves, AND that they’ll enjoy! We’ve gone through blueberries with no success, strawberries with limited success and bigger fruits with success but so much faff. Raspberries are the way forwards! SB absolutely loves them!
  • In The Night Garden. Iggle Piggle is back with a vengeance and SB is loving it! Mummy and Daddy… not loving it so much…
  • Stacking Cups. Now that she’s mastered the stacking rings, she’s taken on her next challenge – cups!

10411820_10153206669082295_4955721143673865393_n

DSC_0909

SB’s Bedroom!

A couple of months ago I wrote a post talking about SB’s bedroom, all the work we had to do on it and how we were hoping she’d be ready to get into her bedroom by her first birthday. In all the excitement of her birthday, I totally forgot to post that she went into her bedroom on the night of her first birthday, and has slept in there ever since!

We really expected more issues than we had, in getting her to settle in her room. After all, she’d spent the entire first year in with us, wasn’t she going to freak out about being in a strange room, without Mommy and Daddy just a couple of feet away?

As it turns out, no. We have a lovely little routine we follow. She has her bottle (the only bottle she has now, which is mostly whole milk with a little formula in it), and then she gets into her PJs and her sleeping bag, and we carry her through. She says goodnight to the owls on the beautiful mobile her godmother made for her (the owls have names, and there is a goodnight song). Then we sing goodnight to mommy and daddy, and then it’s time for sleep. Sometimes it takes her a while to settle, but she always does in the end. There’s still no night wakings or real difficulty getting her to sleep – she’s such an easy baby! (Can I still call her a baby? I can still call her a baby, right?). I’m well aware the next one will be a complete and utter terror, but isn’t that part of the fun? <she asks hopefully>.

Anyway, here’s some pictures of SB’s beautiful bedroom (and yes, I’m aware her name is in clear view).

DSC_0901 DSC_0907 DSC_0909 DSC_0914 DSC_0916 DSC_0917 DSC_0918 DSC_0961

11149267_804535316302678_6765132250934327132_n

Dissertation Done!

Apologies for the lack of posts recently – I thought, once my dissertation was over, that I’d finally get a chance to relax a little bit, spend some time with SB and D and some time alone too.

I should’ve known better.

The problem is, I’m a glutton for punishment. A few weeks ago I was contacted by a TV company making a programme about young mums. A couple of interviews later, and we had a TV crew coming down to follow us for a couple of days. It was fun, but obviously when you have cameras around you, people are naturally curious, and it got so tiring, explaining to people what was happening.

The Friday they were with us was the deadline for my dissertation. I thought I was all ready, until a final proofread the night before, when I realised that half the data charts I’d made, hadn’t actually saved. Cue a desperate rush to make them again the next morning, while simultaneously straightening my hair, making SB’s breakfast and trying to eat my own breakfast, all while talking to the cameras.

Still, it’s finally handed in! It’s been a long time in the making, but I felt so proud to have that dissertation, printed and spiral-bound and there in my hands, and being able to hand it over to the undergraduate office felt like a momentous occasion (I’m glad the TV crew were there to capture it!). It was quite emotional for me, as looking back at all the challenges we’ve come through to get that dissertation submitted, but I am proud of myself, and couldn’t have done it without D’s help. Now I just have to cross my fingers and hope for a good grade.

Of course, I’ve never been one to just kick back and bask in my pride – I volunteered to be stage manager for the Showcase performance on my course in a couple of weeks. Little did I know this would involve co-ordinating a massive technical effort, with more deadlines than I can count, and various team members dipping in and out, so that’s a bit of a nightmare right now. Honestly, I wish I could just take the next two weeks as time to spend with SB and D – that’s all I want to do. I’ve got one more essay to write, and although it shouldn’t be difficult, it will be long, so that’s weighing on my mind.

Anyway, that’s why updates have been super sparse the last couple of weeks, but it’s coming to an end soon, and a new venture possibly awaits! I’m currently going through the application process for what looks like an amazing job, and really hoping I get it!

Yesterday SB had her jabs (MMR, pneumonia and another I can’t remember), and in typical SB style, nothing ever goes smoothly. She was a little trooper; the nurse suggested I hold her chest to chest, and it worked really well, meaning she couldn’t wriggle away easily. She screamed when the jabs went in, and was obviously upset by the pain, but all it took was a little distraction to calm her down.

That distraction came in the form of the pneumonia jab. As it went into her leg, she jerked away, I grabbed her to stop her flying off my lap, and the nurse’s hand moved, jabbing me with the needle too. I’m pro-vaccination and would never put a baby at risk of serious illness for the sake of a little pain, but OUCH! Poor babies! Those things are really bloody sharp! The nurse was mortified, I just found it funny and thought I’d maybe just felt the tip through my jacket until I rolled my sleeve up and saw some blood. Then SB was handed straight over to Daddy, and I scrubbed my arm with Hibiscrub (my skin HATES hibiscrub, the rash was more uncomfortable than the jab!) under the nurse’s orders. In all the kaffuffle, SB had totally calmed down and although she was a little hiccupy, she was her usual chattery self, enjoying a cuddle with her daddy. We didn’t even have to endure the miserable ten minutes sat in the waiting room to make sure she was alright – by the time all the needlestick paperwork had been filled out, and they’d double-checked I didn’t want any screening done to make sure nothing had been passed on (I trust SB not to have hepatitis at her age!), we were free to go!

I was in awe of how well SB coped. She was a little warm and a little under the weather, so we didn’t take her into nursery until late, but she never once complained or whined about it, she was such a big brave girl! That’s her last jabs now until her pre-school boosters – now those ones will be interesting. I remember my own pre-school jabs, and how terrified I was as I knew exactly what going into that building meant. It may not win me any awards for Parent Of The Year, but I get the feeling that’s when bribery with Milkybar Buttons will come into its own and get us through.

For now, all she needs is a cuddle with dadda and seeing mama in pain and she’s absolutely fine.

11149267_804535316302678_6765132250934327132_n

IMG_0022

Mummascribbles

An open letter to all those who feel student mums are selfish…

Yesterday I was sat in the university library, trying to finish off an essay, when I overheard the conversation two girls opposite me were having. Normally if I overhear conversations, I quickly switch off and go back to whatever I’m doing, but this one piqued my attention. What I heard one of the girls say made me feel so angry, so furious, I couldn’t believe it.

“Student mothers are selfish. Stay at home and look after your baby!”.

Followed by assumptions about student mums not loving their babies enough, or not being able to cope with motherhood.

I can only assume they were talking about a classmate, or someone they knew, but I was so disgusted by what they said that it took all my composure not to kick off there and then.

Instead, I bit my tongue, packed up my stuff and moved elsewhere. But I can’t shake it from my mind, because if these girls feel this way, who’s to say there aren’t others who feel it too?

I doubt those girls will ever read my blog, and so they’ll never read this letter, but this is to anyone, anywhere, who feels that student mums are selfish, don’t love their babies, or aren’t capable of being good mums.

I am 20 years old. I am a full time student. I am a full time mum.

I don’t stop being a mum at 8:50am when I drop my daughter off at nursery, as I have done every weekday morning since she was five months old. I don’t forget I have a baby while I’m walking away, trying not to show how upset I get when she reaches for me as I say goodbye.

I don’t stop being a mum at 9:10am, when I’m sat in class or rehearsal, and I check the time on my phone, and I see her face on my lock screen, or my wallpaper. My heart aches and my arms feel empty and I have to force myself to focus on work.

I don’t stop being a mum at 11am, when I rush to the library to do the work I couldn’t get done the night before, because she has a cough and isn’t sleeping well. I see her face on my wallpaper and smile, but I miss her so much. I hear you talk about selfish student mums who clearly don’t love their babies enough, and I bite my tongue. I’m learning to do that more and more – I have to set a good example.

I don’t stop being a mum at 12:30pm, when I go to lunch with my friends, and as they laugh and chat over plates of chips, I wonder if the nursery would mind me just popping in to check on her, hoping her temperature isn’t too high, wondering what she’s had for lunch (the babies eat better than us students do!).

I don’t stop being a mum all afternoon, as I watch the clock and feel the seconds ticking away like minutes, and my arms ache to pick her up, I finally allow myself to think of her face, I hope she’s awake when we pick her up so she can crawl towards us with that beautiful smile on her face. It distracts me from my work but I don’t stop thinking about her.

I don’t stop being a mum when we’ve picked her up and had our amazing snuggles, and she’s eating her tea while I write up notes from the day on my laptop. I have to stop every now and then to pass her another sandwich, or another spoonful of yoghurt.

I don’t stop being a mum when I’m getting lost in research about verbatim theatre or trying to get another hundred words done on my dissertation, and I have to keep prising her away from my keyboard because otherwise I end up with my work reading “Griffin (2008) said that “verbatim theatre is ++++++++43434343    ——- a way of +++++++***”, or she just closes down the word document before I can save the really awesome piece of writing I’ve just done. I don’t magically re-start being a mum when I give up and put the laptop down and give her a big cuddle, only for her to bite my hand and crawl off to play with her toys.

I don’t stop being a mum at 8pm, when she is in bed and finally I can get my work done, in between washing her clothes, eating our own dinner and having a shower. I don’t stop being a mum as I surround myself with books and research and slave away for hours, desperately trying to meet seemingly impossible deadlines.

I don’t stop being a mum at 1am, when I finally fall into bed after managing maybe an hour of downtime, with my sleep disturbed as I worry about her cough, and my dissertation, and impending deadlines, and the world she’s growing up in, and how am I going to support our family, and am I doing this and that right, and do her clothes for tomorrow clash, and a million other things, stupid or otherwise, that fill my head.

I never stop being her mum. I never stop making decisions that will benefit her. I never stop thinking or worrying about her, and I never stop loving her.

When I stand in the office, handing in my dissertation, I will still be her mum. When I cross the stage and shake hands with the vice chancellor on graduation day, I will still be her mum.
When I sit there, nervous and shy, on my first day in my new job, I will still be her mum.

I won’t claim to know the ins and outs of your life. I won’t assume anything about your challenges and your responsibilities. I won’t say you have no idea what I deal with, because you may deal with more, but we have faced obstacles this last two years, and we have overcome them. My boyfriend and I are getting 2:1s and Firsts at uni while raising a beautiful, clever little girl who is loved beyond measure, and adores the people around her – us, our friends who are more like a family to us and to her, and her nursery staff.

What I will say is the next time you decide to call me selfish, consider this. I am studying, I will be graduating, I will be working, all for my daughter and her future.

If that’s what you call selfish, you’re the one with the problem, not me.

DSC_0366

What I’d Tell Myself..

If I could write a letter that would be read by myself a year ago, I think this is the advice I’d give.

1) You’re going to face some really tough times. You thought pregnancy was difficult? Think again. That was nothing compared to what you’re going to experience now. During the pregnancy, your body did everything your baby needed. Now, it’s all up to you and D, and you’re going to need to work at it.

2) It’s alright to put the baby in the Moses basket. Do yourself a favour. Don’t spend the next week holding the baby all night, alternating as to who sleeps. You are allowed to sleep at the same time as your baby – that’s the whole point of people saying ‘Sleep when she sleeps’! She will be fine – you don’t need to spend twenty-four hours a day holding her, as lovely as it is.

3) The night feeds don’t last forever! I’m not going to tell you to cherish them; I’m not looking back on this time with rose-tinted glasses. Just keep that in mind when you’re awake for the third time in a night, desperately putting together a bottle. On that note –

4) The way you feed her really doesn’t matter. Please, stop beating yourself up right now. Save yourself weeks and months of guilt and sadness over how you ended up feeding. Breastfeeding SB wasn’t meant to happen; it was healthier for her and for you to formula feed. It’s not what you planned, but plans always change. A year from now, she will be happy, healthy, bright and beautiful, and no-one will be able to tell how she was fed from looking at her.

5) Comparing yourself to other mums will never end well. What’s the point of it? It doesn’t change what sort of a mum you are. Everyone parents differently, and no method is better or worse than any other. If you’re doing what’s right for you (and you are, trust me), keep doing it. You don’t need to compare yourself, you’re doing great.

6) Every challenge is a learning experience. When she gets poorly, when she refuses her food, when she won’t poo or she’s getting fussy, don’t freak out. She will be fine, you and D will cope, and you’ll be stronger and wiser for it. Every experience, even the bad ones, are opportunities to learn and grow. Make the best of them.

7) Cherish her being unable to move everywhere! Seriously. Make the most of these days, where she’s so small, and just lies in your arms. Pretty soon, you’ll be chasing after her while she crawls, and constantly pulling her out of sticky situations. Enjoy the cuddles!

8) Don’t feel guilty about putting her into nursery. It’s difficult, and people may judge you, but she’ll love it there. She’ll be so bright and sociable as a result of it, and the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when you’re where I am now, on the brink of finishing your degree, will be indescribable. It is SO worth it.

9) Don’t despair! It’s easy to think, when she’s so immobile and small, ‘What am I doing here?’. You’ve been expecting a baby, a tiny human, a new person in your family – and instead you’ve got a little thing that cries and eats and poops and doesn’t do a whole lot else. In a year’s time, she’ll be your best buddy, your little shadow, the centre of your universe. She’ll make you laugh so many times every day with the little babbles she comes out with, the faces she pulls, the mischief she makes. She’ll melt your heart when she kisses your cheek, and strokes your face, and looks at you when D asks ‘Where’s Mama?’. She’ll be your tiny little human, and you and D will be her entire world.

10) You are a brilliant mum. You are the best mum for your baby. Oh, how I wish someone had just sat me down in the first few weeks/months of parenting, and said this to me. People commented briefly that I was a natural, or I was doing great, but in my head, that was just what you’re supposed to say to a new mum. I wish someone had told me that it doesn’t matter how young I am, it doesn’t matter that I’m a student, it doesn’t matter that I’m lost – am the only mum my daughter needs, and the best one for her, and I am doing really well. It may take a long time, but you’ll realise that, and you’ll get to the point where SB reaches out to you, and you realise that to her, you and D are everything she needs. Maybe other people are parenting differently, maybe their babies are walking at 9 months and reciting the alphabet at 13 months, and maybe you think they’re parenting ‘better’ – but they could never be SB’s parents in the way that you two are.

Mummascribbles
DSC_0003

12 Month Update!

Her birthday celebrations are done and dusted, and now our SB is a year old. It’s hard to believe the emotions associated with this milestone; the realisation that our baby girl has been in the world and in our lives for a whole year!

DSC_0677

In terms of her development, I feel like we’ve seen another big leap from where she was a month ago.

TALKING

This is where we appear to be at a standstill. We talk to SB all the time, and do everything the books and websites suggest, but she isn’t having any of it. We’ve got ‘Hiya’ nailed, and she associates it with waving now, which is great. Dada is sorted, although she doesn’t really know who dada is, but we’re having real difficulty with ‘Mama’. I’ve never seen her actually put her lips together and make a proper ‘mmm’ sound, so it’s something I’ll be talking to the Health Visitor about. We’re teaching her a lot of technical terms bilingually, so when she points to our mouth, we say ‘Ceg’ first, followed by ‘Mouth’, so she gets it in English and Welsh. She’s getting very good at responding to verbal cues – when she hears ‘Oh no!’ she puts her hands on her head like the Scream painting! She also instantly recognises ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’, and starts dancing and clapping. She definitely understands what ‘No’ means, and takes great joy in ignoring it entirely.

DSC_0938

FOOD

We’re down to two bottles a day now – one in the morning, one before bed – and the decision to drop the middle bottle was one that she made for us. She was refusing a lot of her food, but now we’ve dropped the bottle, she eats so well. We’re transitioning onto cow’s milk, which I’m a little nervous about, but SO ready to say goodbye to bottles and formula now! SB is a little food fiend – the staff at nursery have commented on how it’s amazing she’s so tiny, the amount of food she puts away – but she just takes after her Daddy in that respect. She can be a little thief at times – cake, sausage rolls and various other foods have been swiped from under our noses by her grubby little fists, and vanished into her mouth before we can say anything. As you can tell from the picture, she was in heaven on Easter morning!

DSC_0775

MOTOR SKILLS 

We are getting closer and closer to unaided walking by the day. Tonight she managed to stand up by herself (albeit very wobbly) for a second or two. The problem we have is that she finds it absolutely hilarious when she falls over, and goes out of her way to do so. She’s cruising everywhere, but often prefers crawling – if she realises someone is chasing her, she very quickly speeds up. In terms of fine motor skills, she takes me by surprise every day. She stacks rings onto a ring pyramid with ease, holds her toy phone to her hear, honks the horn on her little truck – she’s really starting to make the connections between an action and a result.

IMG_0411

GENERAL DEVELOPMENT

My squidgy newborn gets further away by the day, replaced by a little person, who will sometimes be my best friend, and sometimes my sworn nemesis. She’s starting to explore the world of tantrums, which is great fun for us, and may have yet more teeth coming through (welcome back to Hell, basically!). Most of the time, though, she’s a little sweetie, using her puppy dog eyes to the best of her ability, turning on the smile when she needs it most, and laughing at things just because we’ve laughed at them.

Her likes are… ‘interesting’, let’s put it that way. A sure-fire way of making her giggle is to sniff her feet, and proclaim how stinky they are. The other day she gave me the big, sad puppydog eyes, crawled over to me, pulled herself up on my bare leg (I was in pyjama shorts at the time) and gave me the most beautiful look I’ve ever seen… before licking my leg, smiling at me and getting back down to crawl around. I’m not sure why I expected my kid to be anything but weird, but even I wasn’t prepared for this level of randomness from such a sweet, angelic little thing.

DSC_0003

In terms of where we’re at as parents, there’s been a massive change over the last month. We’ve been growing in confidence all the time, but never had a set idea as to where we want our family to go and what we want to do next. We talked about having another baby some unspecified number of years down the line – usually five, but sometimes we flitted between more or less.

I realise now that this was to keep the people around us happy – to stop them making comments, or being annoyed, or thinking we were being feckless or stupid. The thing is, we’ll never please anyone – it’ll just never happen. I could have a baby tomorrow and there’ll be people saying how well we’ve done, and I could wait five years and have people muttering about age gaps and jealousy.

Emotionally, I am so ready for another baby, it hurts (and I’m sorry if anyone who knows me is reading this and is shocked by that – I did say it was the honest truth!). I’d love another baby right now. Physically my health isn’t good enough, but I feel like we’re starting to get there slowly. Practically, we’re not ready. We wouldn’t need to move, as bedroom tax rules mean any other child we have would be sharing with SB for the forseeable regardless. I need to be working, and have established myself at work. D needs to have finished his dissertation next year. We need to make sure SB is ready.

So has SB’s birthday made me long for the newborn days again (I must be mad!)? is there another baby on the horizon? The simple answer is yes, but don’t expect any announcements this side of 2016. Ask me again in the new year – right now I think I need a little longer to forget all the morning sickness, aching joints, chronic tiredness, anxiety, nightmares, being the size of a house…