Treasure Them

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Is it just me who wishes the old saying of ‘if I had a pound’ was true for the phrase ‘treasure them’ or any of its connotations? I think I’d be sunning myself on my own private island right now if I’d started when we announced our pregnancy.

I’ve posted a lot about things people say during pregnancy and motherhood that are either naïve, ridiculous or just plain dumb and it’s probably lead some readers to think I’m ridiculously grumpy (it’s true, I’m not ashamed). But this one’s been rubbing me up the wrong way for a while.

I know it’s true, I just don’t see the value in the phrase? It’s like some throwaway comment people offer when really they have nothing intelligent to add to the conversation. Everyone in the whole wide world knows that the portion of your life you spend being a baby is fleeting and thus it’s not a huge jump to arrive at the thought that being a mother to a baby is all too short an experience. I am (and was from before conception) aware that pretty soon Alexandra will be a toddler and then a pre-schooler and then a child and then a teen and then an adult. It’s logic. It’s the way the entire world operates.

At one point we had no idea if I would ever make those stages and there’s still a part of me that remains convinced my condition will creep up and slap us in the face again one day and that with an already weakened heart I might not be so lucky next time. So I find it fairly insulting when complete strangers tell me to treasure my child. You think every time I hold her or watch her play or learn a new skill, I don’t say a silent thank you to whoever’s out there for that moment? You think every time all three of us wake up happy and healthy in the morning I don’t breathe a sigh of relief? You think I don’t hold back tears every day when I think about what might have been and how much I could have missed. The fact there won’t be a second, another baby to see transform from a newborn to a mobile, babbling infant, makes this feeling even more acute.

There’s hardly a single mother in the world who doesn’t absolutely treasure their child and realise them being tiny is so fleeting. Yes they may get stressed, tired, tear their hair out, despair, cry, moan etc. But believe me they’re still treasuring this little miracle they’ve been entrusted with. It’s a bit patronising to suggest otherwise!

Harriet and Alexandra x

Home V Work

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Ah, the age old debate. Who has it better? The parent staying at home to cater for baby’s every need and whim, or the poor soul leaving every morning to go and be a real grown up?

We talked about this in our NCT classes, about how it shouldn’t all descend into a ‘well you’re just sat at the computer all day’/’well you’re just playing all day’ argument with both of you claiming the other couldn’t hack what you’re doing. At the time I kind of thought I’d never feel resentful of Dylan getting to go to work. I’m spending time with our baby, bonding, watching them grow, how could I ever feel jealous of someone who’s not doing that. Right? Wrong!

I absolutely love being at home with Alex, my life has changed beyond all comprehension from spending Wednesdays deadlining a paper to spending Wednesdays sat on a mat surrounded by other babies singing songs, banging saucepan lids together and watching puppet shows. In many ways, what I do now is a hundred, million per cent better and more rewarding. But I don’t massively feel like a valuable member of society anymore. Yes I’m raising a baby but before I used to do so much stuff! Now anything I do outside of that (freelance work, volunteering, blogging etc) is crammed into precious seconds when baby’s asleep or, like now, I’m up earlier than the rest of the household on a weekend to get something done.

Most of the time I am simply ‘mom’. Even when I get out of the house to have lunch, or go to the park, or baby sensory everything is still very centred around Alexandra. And I get that it won’t be forever, and she is the most important thing in the world so it’s only right my life is so acutely focused on her. But somehow I’ve lost a bit of me in the process. I was looking at old Instagram pictures of myself the other day, ones from about three years ago. I am constantly at the gym in them or out with friends and in most of the pictures I’m wearing make up, have my hair done (properly, not just thrown up on top of my head), have gel nails and nail varnish on, have clearly thought about my outfit and put jewellery on too. Now I spend most of my days sat in leggings and a top which probably has some form of food and/or sick/snot down it (all Alex’s not mine, you must understand!).

Anyway I’m getting off topic, my point is I feel I’ve lost a little bit of myself in this ‘stay at home’ journey and maybe I’ll get that back at some point (when she goes to school? When she leaves home?) but maybe I’m destined to just be ‘Alexandra’s mom’ forever! Dylan on the other hand (who I think is frigging amazing for going out and supporting us and enabling me to be here with Alex just doing freelance work instead of having to go out the house to work) gets to go and be ‘Dylan the man with the important job who talks about things other than poo and weaning’ which I can’t help but be a tad jealous of.

Not jealous enough that I’d want to swap places (and for what it’s worth I think he’d get insanely bored staying at home after a while!) but jealous enough to think maybe one day a month I should be allowed to get dressed up snazzy and go to his office and answer serious phone calls while he does my role.

Harriet and Alexandra x

Motherhood is…

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I’ve been a mom for eight months now and while I’d never claim to be an expert, I wanted to share my thoughts about motherhood and to share some of the thoughts I have at this time, like a snapshot of my mind to look back on in future.

Motherhood is… looking at someone with snot coming out of their nose, dribble on their chin and breakfast mushed into their hair and thinking they’re the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen.

Motherhood is… worry. Constant worry.

Motherhood is…knowing exactly which stairs creak and avoiding them after putting baby to bed.

Motherhood is… convincing yourself tonight will be different and you’ll totally get loads done in the hours between baby’s bedtime and yours.

Motherhood is… feigning excitement about courgettes.

Motherhood is… using every single pillow in the house to make a safe fortress to stop bumped heads.

Motherhood is… veering wildly between being really excited about the next stages and being gutted they’re not a newborn anymore.

Motherhood is… having no barriers and no dignity.

Motherhood is… going to sleep each night with the jumparoo music playing over and over in your mind.

Motherhood is… the toughest and the best thing you’ve ever done.

Harriet and Alexandra xxx

Motherhood: The Rivals

She's actually thinking about really complicated things you wouldn't understand.

She’s actually thinking about really complicated things you wouldn’t understand.

Essentially life is one big competition (it shouldn’t be, but it is!). From the day you step foot over the threshold of a school you’re being pitted against your peers to see who comes out on top. You spend your life aiming to be ‘the one’ – the one who gets 100 per cent on the test, the one who gets a first at university, the one who breaks all targets and records at work, the one who runs the fastest, the one who jumps the highest. But I feel nowhere in life are women pitted more ferociously against each other than when they become mothers.

I’d like to make it clear I am not at all talking about my mommy friends who are all lovely and supportive before anyone starts feeling paranoid! But I feel having taken up the role of ‘mother’ a year ago (because it does start the second you announce you’re pregnant), every tiny thing has suddenly become a competition. It seems like we have to compete to have the ‘best’ baby. Oh my baby slept a trillion hours last night, my baby actually crawled out of the womb it’s so advanced, my baby was doing trigonometry and reciting Shakespeare plays in their entirety from a week old.

Well guess what, no matter how fancy you think your baby is I guarantee you’re still spending most your days wiping its sick and poo. Fact. No matter how amazing you’re trying to convince everyone else your baby is, I guarantee you’ve sat crying at least once with a mixture of dribble/vomit/other bodily fluids in your hair wondering why the hell you thought parenthood would be such a blast.

Cause I’ll let you into a secret, I REALLY like my child. Honestly, she’s pretty immense. I get all the feels when I think about how much I love her. 99 per cent of the time she sleeps through the night, only cries when she’s hungry or tired, will settle for anyone without fussing and smiles and giggles constantly. But it’s still hard work! I spend my whole day trying to remember to take 57 gazillion things with us when we go out, there’s the endless routine of ‘feed baby, change baby, entertain baby’. If anyone asks, I will tell them that Alexandra’s a fantastic baby and we’re very lucky she is golden. Other people praise her endlessly. But I don’t feel the need to wear a massive badge saying ‘world’s best mother’. Cause you know what, it’s pretty much diddly squat to do with me! (The kid doesn’t even look like me! I basically just carried her round for a few months and now feed her while her daddy’s at work – I know my place in life!) At this stage it’s largely down to luck! Luckily I’ve passed on my love of sleep to our tot, she had to be babysat by anyone and everyone (think the postman had a turn one day!) when I was in hospital and Dylan needed to be by my bedside, she has a lovely temperament. All pure chance and luck, not because I’m playing Mozart and reading Dickens to her every night (I can’t even remember any nursery rhymes so I generally sing 90s indie music to her, what a joy!).

I realise I’m very lucky but I really don’t feel the need to brag about it, I’m only sharing this all now because I’m on a right rant about rivelry! When I hear of someone struggling to settle their baby, I might try and give them tips if I’ve found something particularly useful, but some people seem to think it’s fine to brag about how their child can recite the entire encylopedia and founded Google.

So my plea is: mothers, why not be kind to each other! Pass the tissues to mothers you meet who are struggling and try and support them a little. No one cares that your baby knows pi to the 100th decimal place or can juggle knives while fire-eating. No one wants to hear you brag about your ‘perfect’ life because you’re not fooling yourself or anyone else!

Harriet and Alexandra x

Things I’ve Learned

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Motherhood is a steep learning curve, so steep it’s hard not to fall off at some points! No matter how much you read or research beforehand, I feel like nothing can prepare you for being handed a miniature human being and having to keep them not only alive, but happy/engaged/fulfilled etc, for the rest of their lives. Regardless, in the hope of sharing some wisdom I’ve had a little think about things I didn’t know before I became a mom:

Your own child will disgust you. We’ve all smelled a baby’s nappy and had our stomach turn. I figured you wouldn’t mind when it was your own but nope, there’s still an absolute horror which fills you when a terrible waft comes past your nose and you open a nappy to see a poonami.
But you’ll still love them beyond belief. If anyone else sicked in your hair (but somehow secretly so you didn’t notice until hours later while you were out. True story.) you’d be pretty hacked off. Baby does it and you look at them and you’re still filled with love.
You’ll love your partner even more. There’s nothing cuter than seeing your baby with their daddy and, even if you thought you loved them before, your heart will swell at the sight (I know, I know, pass the sick bucket!).
Babies are hilarious. Long before they’re talking, babies have a special knack of being hysterically funny. Their giggles are infectious and making them dance/talk/do any manner of hilarious things can be a game which lasts for hours.
Sometimes you just wish they were born talking. You will at one point (or many points) stare exasperately down at your child and demand they tell you what’s wrong. When you’ve tried feeding them, burping them, trying to get them to sleep, entertaining them and nothing is making them calm, you will turn to your child who has yet to utter a word and attempt to get them to telepathically communicate with you why they’re so grumpy.
Being sick is a ‘non event’. When I’m sick, I feel rotten for ages before, I spend ages hurling and then tend to feel a bit shoddy afterwards too. When Alexandra’s sick, five seconds before she can be laughing and smiling away, it comes out her mouth and then a moment later she’s acting like nothing’s happened. A bit of warning would be nice!

Any others you’d add to the list? (I probably will think of many more as time goes on!)

Harriet and Alexandra x

Three Months On!

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I can hardly believe it but my little girl is three months old today – in some ways it feels like years since the day I gave birth (and hasn’t SO much happened since!) but in other ways it’s gone in the blink of an eye and I can’t believe how big she is. Had things been a little more ‘normal’ I would have done one and two month updates but as it is this is the first and hopefully I’ll keep it going to track her development.

Alexandra can roll from her back to her front (well she’s done it once!), smile and giggle, she’s noticing her hands and feet a lot more now and her hand/eye co-ordination is getting really good, she recognises people she sees a lot and definitely knows our voices. She absolutely loves ‘Mr Owl’ – a little jingly owl that is currently hanging off her baby gym, one of her favourite places to be. Everyone comments how alert she is and how well she holds her head up, she’s trying to sit up and is very nosy and likes to be where she can see everything going on. Her absolute favourite things are lights, she spends a ridiculous amount of time each day staring at lights – if we take her somewhere with loads she won’t even acknowledge we’re there as she’s too busy looking!

She’s only recently got into a routine since I got out of hospital as obviously everything was very changeable each day beforehand. Now she wakes around 6am for her morning feed and then either goes back into her moses basket for another sleep or on Tuesdays and Thursdays when Dylan takes her to the childminder she comes into the bed for a chat with me before she goes. She’s there on a Tuesday and a Thursday at the moment but gradually as I get better that’ll reduce so she’ll be with me full time. She tends to feed again at around 10/10.30am, 3/3.30pm and 6/6.30pm and then daddy comes home! He does the last feed which can be anywhere between about 9 and 10.30 and then she generally sleeps through until the morning.

So far (fingers crossed) she’s a very calm and contented little lady. She’s had to adapt to being looked after by a few different people so she’s very good with new faces and generally she only complains when she’s hungry or overtired (baby logic is great – I’m going to moan and cry for 15 minutes because I’m so tired instead of just going to sleep!). She hasn’t been weighed for a couple of weeks but must be 12lb something by now and is just about to outgrow most of her 0-3m stuff so we’ll be starting the process of packing them away (so sad!) and hanging up her 3-6m stuff soon.

Overall she’s a brilliant baby (I’d mark her 10/10 for the last three months. Well done Alexandra, you’ve passed your probation and can stay on with us as your parents permanently! Haha) and of course the cutest bambino ever made!

Harriet and Alexandra x (I still haven’t got used to typing that instead of ‘Harriet and bump’ which I signed off all my pregnancy blog posts with)

The Bit After The Birth…

Every baby girl needs a tutu!

Every baby girl needs a tutu!

When you get pregnant, when you go to the classes, when you finally give birth and your baby’s placed on you for the first time, you think about being a family, about going home and starting your motherhood journey. You don’t think about becoming critically ill and missing a lot of your baby’s first weeks! But apparently that’s what sometimes happens. I haven’t blogged for a long, long time as shortly after my last post I was readmitted into hospital and that’s where I’ve been up until Friday last week. Thankfully, I am much much better and Alexandra is a healthy, happy and thriving little girl (although getting bigger by the second – she’s nearly three months old already!).

So much has happened it seems overwhelming to get into it, but I’m just going to start at the start and when the post starts getting too long I’ll publish it and start a new one:

After Alex was born (birth story here), it’s all a bit of a blur for the next few hours apart from when they tried to take me for a shower, I collapsed and all of a sudden there were about a dozen people in the room! At around 1am they moved me down from the labour ward to a bay with four beds on the postnatal ward, meaning Dylan had to go home. I was just watching Alex all the time so the midwives took her cot out of the room and in with them for a couple of hours so I could get some sleep. We had visitors the next day and everything seemed to be going okay, my platelet levels were even going up.

On the Monday when she was two days old they were talking about discharging me because of this but then one of the lovely midwives, Karen, noticed Alexandra was looking a little bit yellow and suggested she get tested for jaundice; it turned out she was right on the borderline so she had around 17 hours of treatment. Over those 17 hours my oxygen levels suddenly started dropping and no one could work out why, the staff were all testing themselves, swapping machines in case the original one was faulty etc. I started feeling really dizzy and out of breath and ended up on oxygen – around this time I was transferred to my own private room. I was having to get help to get to and from the bathroom and was really feeling quite rubbish.

I ended up having numerous tests including chest x-rays and a CT scan where dye is put into your veins – this led to a diagnosis of extensive pulmonary embolisms in both lungs (blood clots) and pneumonia. I was put on warfarin which is a drug which controls the consistency of your blood and stayed in hospital for a further week. I look back on those first 12 days as quite a happy time because I loved the midwives and healthcare assistants looking after me and Dylan was allowed to stay so even though he was on a little camp bed, me on a hospital bed and Alex in a plastic cot at least we were all together in one room.

There were of course huge down moments, the most major of all being two days before the wedding when we had to have a serious chat and come to the decision I was too unwell and it would be too much of a risk me leaving the hospital for the day. Up until that point the doctors and rest of the staff were going to do everything possible to ensure I could get there, even if I was in a wheelchair and on oxygen, but by the Thursday they too said it wasn’t a good idea. I’ve still double barrelled my name by deed poll and we’ve both now started wearing our wedding rings but of course it was heart-breaking to call off something we’d planned for so long and put our all into organising.

Fast forward to the following Wednesday and there had been talk for a couple of days of me being transferred to the respiratory ward and Alexandra being discharged as she was absolutely fine and they’re not meant to keep babies past ten days on the antenatal ward. But I seemed to have got a little better (I was adamant I wasn’t going up to the ward without my baby so I was desperate to improve!) and the decision was taken that I could be discharged.

I’m going to leave this post here as it’s already very long! But I’ll be back soon with the next chapter.

Harriet and Alexandra x

Massive Milestones

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These baby milestone cards seem to be all the rage these days – with people getting them so they can document not only age milestones (one week old, one month old etc) but also other events like first smile, sitting up unaided and so on. We haven’t got any yet although I think they’d be really lovely to have for photos – but seeing them so often got me thinking a little bit about what milestones I’m most looking forward to in the first weeks of our baby’s life.

First daddy cuddle – I absolutely cannot wait to see Dylan hold our little girl for the first time! I think I’m almost as excited to see that as I am to cuddle her myself. I just think it’s going to be one of those magical moments you remember forever.

First night at home – I’m actually dreading having to stay in hospital after the birth, even though loads of people have told me they really benefitted from being there for a couple of days. Maybe I’ll feel differently when she’s here and really want that professional support on hand but right now I’m looking forward to her coming home for that first night where it’s the three of us together – no matter how exhausting it might be!

Meeting my goddaughter – Of course I can’t wait for her to meet my entire family and all my friends too, but my goddaughter is almost four and the way she talks about the baby is so cute! Seeing them meet for the first time is definitely going to melt my heart.

First swim – Both myself and Dylan are definitely water fans – we love swimming, both have sailing qualifications and Dyl is also a regular diver. So for us it’s important to take our little one swimming and get her used to the water as soon as possible! We hope she’s going to be a little water baby and as she already has three swimming costumes she’s definitely got the gear already!

Harriet and bump x

The Week That Was: Week 31

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 This week has mainly been about hormones for me – I’ve definitely noticed a big increase in how teary I feel. You’d think I’d be well used to the hormones by now but they’ve definitely ramped up now we’re reaching the end. I nearly cried in the baby section of Asda on Wednesday for absolutely no reason other than the clothes were cute.

I’m also definitely suffering from baby brain. Things go in my head and leave as quickly as they arrived. I’ve forgotten countless things, bought the wrong train ticket the other day etc etc!

It’s also been a week of medical/baby related appointments – starting with a mental health assessment on Monday, then a midwife visit on Wednesday, the end of our NCT course the same day and a growth scan on Friday. The latter two I’ll post about separately. There’s definitely an increase in appointments in these last few weeks and the journey to the hospital is now becoming all-too-familiar! At least when we go for the birth it’ll just be a ten-minute drive and not the current 45-minute bus ride!

Join me next week for a week 32 review!

Harriet and bump x

Am I Ready?

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The title to this blog post – Am I Ready? – is something you’d think I’d have thought about before actually deciding to have a child. Well I did obviously. I felt like I’d put plenty of thought into the decision to become a mother, and looking back it wasn’t something I felt I rushed. It just felt right, if that makes sense. I’d always known I wanted to have children at some point in the future, as soon as I was with Dylan I knew I’d found the person I wanted to be the father of those children and there were a whole host of reasons why it made sense to do it sooner rather than later.

But now I feel I went into that decision armed with only about five per cent of the facts, if that. Now please don’t get me wrong, I am 100 per cent totally not saying I regret getting pregnant or I’m not looking forward to our little girl’s arrival or I don’t already love her a ridiculous amount. But I feel like thinking ‘am I ready?’ for motherhood is an entirely different concept once you’re actually in the position of becoming a mother.

For starters, you learn a whole lot more about the process of pregnancy and having a baby. Beforehand, sure I’d spent time with friends who had children (and the children themselves) but you don’t really get an insight into the totality of their situation, the 24/7 daily life they lead and how that’s flipped upside down by a baby. You know your life will change, and I felt sure (and still do) I was well past the days of wanting to be stood inside a grimy nightclub of a weekend. But it’s only once you approach the latter stages of the pregnancy that you start really taking notice of what you do now and what you’ll be doing then. One night last week, Dyl and I decided on a whim to go out for dinner at 9pm. I’m not saying we’ll never go out for dinner again – we obviously will! – but that kind of spur of the moment thing surely has to be dampened for at least the first couple of years. Taking a baby or toddler out til 11pm without any prior preparation or planning just isn’t feasible!

Then there’s the emotional side of things. After a pretty turbulent start to 2014 (playing it down massively), the summer last year was a real turning point for me and I feel like since I’ve really levelled out and probably been the calmest I’ve been in my life. But now, armed with a whole host of pregnancy hormones, I’ve started worrying whether I really can become a mother. Whether I won’t just sit in a corner and cry a lot! Whether the first day Dylan goes back to work after paternity leave won’t just involve me looking at the baby and wondering what the hell I do now.

People tell me instinct kicks in, you just get on with it, you form this amazing bond and you look back one day and realise you are a mother. I’m massively hoping this is true and that actually, all of the thought I’m putting into the process and the question of ‘how do you become a mother?’ is unnecessary, it’ll just happen.

Harriet and bump x