10 Months On

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Our little cupcake turned ten months yesterday – eek double figures! – and I feel it’s been one of the biggest months for changes yet. She seemed to have a real leap a couple of weeks ago where all of a sudden she could do loads of things she couldn’t do before.

The main change is she’s now crawling! Alex can get pretty much anywhere now on hands and knees and is certainly loving her new-found freedom. Mostly she uses it to go round taking the radiator caps off, who knows why? Also (and this happened pretty much on the same day as the crawling), she’s pulling herself up to standing and climbing – she really can’t be trusted now!

On the talking front she’s begun making a whole range of noises. We’ve had the whole ‘nanana ‘dadada’ thing for quite a while but now she’s making so many different sounds and babbling along as if she’s really talking to you. Most of it makes absolutely no sense but sometimes you think she could actually be saying a word. She tends to say ‘yeah’ after I ask her a question, so often that I’m starting to think she means it! She definitely says ‘daddy’ (or something like it) more at the weekends and evenings when Dylan’s here and sometimes she picks up my phone and holds it out to me saying ‘daddy’ when he’s not here, almost like she’s grasped that most lunchtimes we call him. (You never know whether you’re attributing too much intelligence to them when you think they’re doing something like this!)

Alexandra is starting to love having her picture taken and especially loves looking at herself in the mirror. She’s still got absolutely no teeth and not really any more signs of one than she did last month. Still eating and drinking milk really well and I’d say most of the food she has now is solid rather than mushed up. We got some toys down from the loft for her at the weekend (thank you Pearle for the donations!) and she’d already grasped some of them by the Monday including how to play the xylophone which she’s merrily tinkling away on while I write this.

I’m really proud to call her ours as she’s always been a lovely baby to be around, we get so many comments when we’re out about how smiley and happy she is. She’s doing really well and now it’s just a matter of time until the next leap which will no doubt see her standing unaided!

Harriet and Alexandra x

Being A Good Mom

This is a follow on from a couple of blogs I’ve already written – Being A Sick Mom which you can read if you click here and Being a 20s Mom which you can find here – so you can either read those first or after, or never, up to you!

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In the spirit of my little ‘Being A…’ series I’ve been thinking about the qualities of a good mom and really I think whilst it’s entirely subjective and everyone will have a slightly varying idea on the topic, it kind of comes in layers. Your first layer would (and I don’t think many people would disagree with this part) be taking care of your child’s physical needs: their nappy changes, milk, food, washing them etc.

To me, and I’m sure to most people, those are the absolutely basics you need to have covered if you’re thinking about entering yourself into the Not Completely Failing At Being A Mom Awards. But if you’re going for Mom Of The Year, there’s a whole heap of stuff added on to that which you might wanna think about, no?

There’s the educational side of things: teaching your child how to read, recognise colours and shapes, interact, talk proper. There’s the emotional side: being there for them when something goes wrong, helping them through the daily challenges of life, just giving them a big old cuddle when something sucks. Making decisions for them: getting them into a school where they’ll thrive, establishing a good bedtime routine so they’re not overtired the next day, laying down rules which they might not like but which keep them safe, happy and healthy. The fun side: taking them to the park, running around like a loon with them, singing them funny songs and playing with them.

There’s the financial side: keeping your head above water and sometimes making difficult decisions about home/work balances to ensure they have everything they need. The role model side: making sure you’re a good example for them to follow, admitting when you’ve made a mistake, generally being a nice person. The environment side: providing them with lots of things with stimulate their minds as they grow (books! So many books!), keeping the environment around them clean, tidy and as peaceful as possible. The social side: letting them interact with other children, taking them to places, teaching them to interact with adults too.

No wonder parenting is such a tiring job! If I sat here for a million years I could probably fill that entire time thinking of extras to the list above. So many ways to mess up, but also so many ways to be a super duper, amazing mom!

Harriet and Alexandra x

A Day In The Life

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Now I have a tiny little nephew it’s become even more apparent to me not only how much your life changes when you have a baby but then how much it continues to adapt and evolve as that baby passes through various stages. Even though Alexandra and Zachary are both still babies, the differences between them are staggering – maybe they should create a ‘mobile baby’ stage in between newborn and toddler.

Long gone are the days when I could put Alex down on the sofa or bed and she would happily lie there or just drop off to sleep. Long gone are the days of sleepy cuddles (except for one night a couple of weeks ago when she fell asleep on me. Not good if it becomes a daily habit but simply delightful as a one-off). Now she’s crawling and pulling herself up to standing, I can’t even put her on the sofa and build a fort of pillows around her to contain her while she has a nap. She would simply get over the pile and throw herself off the sofa.

But also long gone are the guessing games of the first few months – is she hungry, tired, just wanting fuss, all of the above? Now she’s a definite creature of habit and there are set times for meals, milk and sleep. We probably have one day in a month where she has a complete meltdown for a couple of hours and I can’t work out what to do with her. The rest of the time we can usually soothe her very quickly which makes life infinitely easier.

Yes we now have to be extremely careful about where we put her, what she’s messing with, whether she can fall off wherever she is. But she’s also excellent at occupying herself, playing with her toys or just amusing herself by crawling round.

So really, while some aspects of parenting her have become harder since she was Zachary’s age, others are just so much easier. Now my maternity leave is over I feel a little more like a real person again and not just a mommy. As she’s finding her identity and her way in the world, so too am I in a weird way. When your life changes so dramatically, you have to figure out a lot of things you thought you’d got sorted a long time ago. But that’s me off on a tangent and probably a whole different story!

Harriet and Alexandra x

Being A 20s Mom

This post is the second in a mini Being A … Mom series I started a couple of weeks ago. Read the first one – Being A Sick Mom here)

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They say age is only a number. They say act your age, not your shoe size. They say all sorts of weird and wonderful things about age but who are ‘they’ and does age really matter?

Since our grandmothers were born and went on to have children themselves, the trend seems to be that we’re leaving it later and later to become mothers. I imagine a large part of that is down to the fact many women are able to have careers these days before starting a family, and the availability of contraceptives meaning we do actually have a choice about these things.

But who knows when the right time to have a child is? At 18 you might have all the energy needed to put up with sleepless nights and crawling round on the floor after a little one. In your 40s you might be more financially secure. In your teens you might still want to be out partying but when you’re older you might have become so used to freedom you don’t want to give it up.

I was 24 when I got pregnant and had turned 25 by the time Alexandra was born. I feel that was a perfect time for me as I’d had time to start my career (I went to college after my A-Levels to do a journalism course so I was 19 when I started working full time) and had enough experience under my belt to have options available to me job-wise once my maternity leave was over. But to be honest, had I been living a different life and my partner wasn’t perhaps so stable I would have probably put things off for a couple of years.

Having a secure place to live, income and a dependable other half are all massive issues in the decision. As it was, Dylan already had children so I knew he was more than ready to take on the task of becoming a dad again. A big part of it though was the fact I’d never been broody before. Yes, I’d thought about becoming a mom in the future, I’d cooed over babies I met, but I’d never had that overwhelming feeling of wanting a baby right now until we were together.

My sister’s just become a mom at 20. Personally, I can’t imagine having had a child at that age when I look back at what my life was like then. But she’s so different and in a completely different situation. She’s already proving what a fantastic mom she is when I’m pretty sure I would have been terrible at 20!

Right now I’m positive my choice to become a mom at 25 was the right one and I hope this stays true into the future (a twee ending sentence but a true one all the same!).

Harriet and Alexandra x

Being A Sick Mom

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Last night I got to thinking while I was washing up about what makes a good mom. What kind of mom I want to be. I’ve thought about it before but it crossed my mind again then. This morning while I was doing my eyebrows I start thinking about being an ‘ill’ mom and what the implications of that were. That sparked off a thought about the fact there are many different types of moms we each are, or aspire to be – whether it’s a ‘fun mom’, a ‘good example mom’, a ‘young mom’ etc. So I thought I’d explore some of these in the upcoming weeks on the blog. Starting with the one that’s probably been the most unexpected and most challenging one for me: being an unwell mom. Not sick as in cool, do the kids even say that these days?

Being unwell, wherever you are on the spectrum between slightly unwell for a short period of time or being drastically ill or permanently disabled throws up extra challenges. You may have known about your condition or illness beforehand and had the change to prep a little, you may have it thrown at you unexpectedly.

As I was most acutely unwell in the first ten weeks of Alexandra’s life, for me the impact was not getting to bond properly with her, not getting to learn how to be her mom in those first precious months, not physically spending as much time with her as you’d expect to get with a newborn ie 24/7. I missed her first smiles, her first set of jabs, her eight week check up, night feeds and so many cuddles

I didn’t look after her completely on my own for any length of time until she was about 14 weeks old and when I did it was both a physical and an emotional challenge. I had to think my way through everything – how would I get her up and down the stairs (answer: I just didn’t until I was strong enough to get her and myself around), how would I change her nappies and clothes (answer: I learned to do everything differently, from poppers to bottles). I had to work out I could feed her if I held her with my right arm, which meant I wasn’t using my dodgy hand and then my good hand was free to hold the bottle.

Now if you saw me out on the street you probably wouldn’t see any difference between me and any of the other moms out there. But everything has been harder, everything has come slower, I still find myself facing situations every day where I struggle a bit more than I would have done before.

As she grows up, Alex probably won’t notice a huge difference between me and her friends’ moms although there will always be the little signs. I’ll always be on meds, we don’t think I’ll ever have full feeling in my hand (although there have been improvements in recent weeks), I’ll never join her if she decides she wants to follow daddy and go diving, she’ll never see me drink alcohol and of course she’ll never have a little brother or sister.

When the time comes we will have to explain those things to her, but I guess she will never know any different so it will all seem normal, whereas for us it’s taken a lot of getting used to (I’m still not there with it all). All in all, I feel incredibly lucky to now be at the stage where I can parent her fairly effectively. Where I can have her every day by myself without assistance. Where I can play with her, take her out and see to her everyday needs.

Being a sick mom hasn’t been easy to come to terms with and I feel like we’ve had a harder journey than most but I count myself incredibly lucky because there are three things which would have been far, far worse: if the illness had denied me of the chance to have a baby, if its impact had been much more severe and I’d not been able to take on her day to day care, or of course if I hadn’t made it. Being an ill mom is definitely infinitely better than being a dead mom.

Harriet and Alexandra X

Baby Bonding

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The bond between mother and baby is one of the strongest known to man. But when does it begin? Conception? Birth? Or a while later?

Mainstream media, television, films and celebrities will have you believe it’s something instant. That the second that baby is placed on your chest after birth, you feel a sudden rush of love like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. In reality, I don’t believe it’s a simple as that.
There are so many people who have extremely difficult births, for whom things are touch and go for mom/baby/both, who don’t get to see their babies for a while or sadly where there are mental health issues at play. Postnatal depression is extremely prevalent and there are a million things going on in those minutes and hours after birth. Having read many people’s stories during my pregnancy and since becoming a mother, I’m coming to the conclusion that instant rush of love isn’t as common as you might think and for many the bonding process is a lot more complicated and drawn out.
Personally, I think I loved Alexandra while she was still growing inside me, I loved her even more when I first met her but I definitely without a doubt love her a million times more now. When she was just born, there was of course an overwhelming need to protect her and an absolute delight that this baby we had made together was finally here and so utterly beautiful and perfect.
Circumstances dictated that I didn’t really get the chance to have as many newborn cuddles as I’d have liked to. I didn’t have the opportunities in the wee small hours to sit and hold her and take in everything about her. Yes I saw her and sometimes held her and sometimes fed her but I didn’t really get what you’d term a ‘normal’ first few weeks. Still, I think if you’d asked me then I would have told you I loved her and felt bonded with her.
I met her again when she was about eight weeks old and I probably felt a bigger rush of love and more emotional when I saw her then than I did at her birth. That sounds terrible but the only way I can rationalise it is that when she was born, we expected to meet her, we expected her to be healthy and although it was a magical moment it was one we always thought we’d have. When I became ill, even before I was on intensive care, part of me believed I’d never get better and never go back to ‘normal’ life and being a mommy. So to get the chance to hold her again, even to see her beautiful little face, was a huge deal for me when I knew how close we’d come to not having that moment, to me being a photograph Dylan showed to her and never a real person she could touch and talk to and know.
At that time, although she felt like my child and I loved her intensely, I didn’t feel like I was her mother. I hadn’t learned how to be yet. Her first smiles had been for someone else and it took me a while to figure out how to get any for myself. She responded to her daddy and her nanna’s voices most of all and they knew her routine and her little quirks much better than I did.
It’s taken months for me to get to know her inside out. And in doing so I believe we have developed that bond. She looks at me now if she doesn’t understand something as if she trusts what I’m doing – if I’m smiling she’ll go along with whatever’s happening. I know what songs bring the biggest smiles. I know that putting her arms into clothes often provokes a cry but only for a second or two. I know that courgette is so far her favourite flavour. I know her ins and outs and that’s where the bond has come. As her personality has developed, so to has the love between us.
I may have loved her at birth, but I truly adore her now. I just hope I feel the same way when she’s older: a strop at six months is still quite cute, a strop at 13 most definitely isn’t!
Harriet and Alexandra xx

For Sale!

For Sale!

A nearly-new Turd Maker 1.0 Deluxe, just four months old with one previous owner.

Now comes with a free Projectile Vomit Add-On and the Super Dribble Advanced Edition at no extra cost.

Highly economical, requiring just 180ml fuel five times a day.

Sensitive alarm system which responds to movement, sound, light, heat and someone whispering five streets away on occasion.

Anti-loss protection included, with highly-distinguishable smell meaning you won’t confuse your Turd Maker 1.0 Deluxe with any other on the market.

Switch between modes easily. Modes include Tired Screaming, Hungry Screaming and Being Charming Because Daddy’s Home.

Benefits of being a TM 1.0 D owner: you’ll learn all the latest repetitive tunes after hearing them over, and over, and over again every single day. You’ll become resistant to head butting, scratching and having another human being’s poo and sick on yourself.

T&Cs: no refunds or exchanges allowed. If you’re not happy with your model please suck it up for the next 18 or so years until they become self-sustainable.

25 Wishes For My 25th

Turning 21 involved significantly more alcohol than turning 25 will!

Turning 21 involved significantly more alcohol than turning 25 will!

This week I’ll be celebrating turning 25, reaching a whole quarter of a century relatively intact. I thought now would be a good time to share what I’d like my little one to have learned by the time she turns 25. If blogging still exists in 25 years I’m definitely going to remember to look back on my 50th birthday and tick off the list with her. Yep, definitely going to remember. Anyway, without further ado:

1. Boys are generally not worth going near until they’re at least in their 20s. Go older if you can (look at your dad, he’s a fab example!)

2. Your hair will never look as good as it does on those days when you’ve not even brushed it and left it in a top knot cause you’re not going anywhere.

3. Life is much better when you learn to live it on your own and only then should you start sharing it with someone special. Neediness breeds insecurity and unhappiness.

4. Buying clothes that don’t need ironing makes so much sense.

5. Look back every couple of years at the music you used to love, some of it will be crap but you’ll have forgotten so much good stuff.

6. Find a best friend who doesn’t agree with everything you say, who tells it like it is and who lets you know when you’re being a douche.

7. Wine on an empty stomach is never a good idea. Ever.

8. You’ll probably enjoy that cake a hell of a lot more than you enjoy thinking about how smug you feel not eating that cake.

9. No one can take your qualifications away from you. They’re ridiculous hard work at the time but it’ll be so worth it in the end.

10. Daily Pro Plus is not a lifestyle choice.

11. Parents make most of their decisions for your own good, even if it didn’t feel like it when you were six and trying to argue your way out of eating veg or ten and trying to argue your way out of tidying your room or 17 and trying to argue your way into having a boyfriend stop over in said (still untidy) room.

12. Keeping friends around you who genuinely have your best interests at heart is one of the most, if not the absolute most, important things in life.

13. It’s okay to like really uncool things. You wanna play chess? Go for it.

14. Sometimes it really is just essential to have a day in your pyjamas, eating crappy food, watching crappy TV and only moving to top up the food or pee. Having 30 of those in a row isn’t so great.

15. Share your emotions. If something hurts, tell someone. If something feels broken, tell someone. Share the good emotions too. Don’t hide away.

16. Some men really are just egotistical and sexist. You got two options: sit and cry about it, or show them why you’re better than them. Always go for option two.

17. Feel grateful for your day-after-drinking freshness when you’re 17. By the time you hit 20 your hangover will start getting worse every time.

18. Outfits are made to be cringed at in five years’ time.

19. You’re always stronger than you think you are. It just takes a really crappy time to find that out.

20. Be with someone who makes you laugh. That’s pretty much the only dating advice my mom gave me but it’s spot on.

21. Life really isn’t fair.

22. You can’t be good at everything in life. Some people look like they might be, they probably aren’t, there’s probably something you can’t see that they’re terrible at. As long as you’re good at something that’s all that matters.

23. One nail will always break as soon as you get them all to the perfect length.

24. Sometimes you can be too over ambitious and fall flat on your face. All that teaches you is you need to have realistic expectations next time!

25. There’s truth in the saying: everything will be alright in the end, if it’s not alright, it’s not the end.

Harriet and bump x