A Memorable Move…

Standard

A busy week of moving house – apparently we have started a tradition that once I am four months pregnant, we move! This time it’s getting our first footing on ‘the ladder’ and we are settling in very happily. Both realising how lucky we are to have this opportunity and it spurred on a little poem. An apt ditty on what is ‘Back to the Future’ day as this week has really felt like the start of a new era in our family’s life story!

New Home

The creaks of the floorboards, the noises on the streets,

The things about our new abode, that makes it so unique.

They’ll soon be familiar, we’ll soon get used to it’s voice,

But already we’re so happy with our new home of choice.

Our little girl running round smiling, my husband sat content,

When people say ‘this is the life’, this must be what they meant.

It’s not the bricks and mortar, not even my beloved log fire,

It’s the people that build a future, even when the world looks dire.

Our house is full of laughter, our house is full of smiles,

It’s great to get on the ladder, but its family that goes the miles.

We can see Christmas trees up in the corner, birthday cards up on the wall,

Milestones all being recorded, as our children start growing up tall.

As we settle we realise how lucky, we have been to get to this point,

Our achievements are not made solo, the efforts to get here were joint.

So as I sit on the sofa so cosy, happy in my husbands loving arms,

I realise my life is not perfect, but it’s pretty spectacularly charmed.

Advertisements

Ditching the dummy…

Standard

Today is the 14th October. Scarlett is just over 15 months old and we are about to move into our new home. A new beginning, and as part of that, it’s time, to finally say goodbye to the dummies!!

Yes the dummy question! A lot of strong opinions on both side of the fence and we’ve managed to somewhat straddle the fence with our decisions. I’ve always been against them but the guidelines had been changed and the advice we received was that dummies are easier to get rid of than thumbs(…!) and so I relented and for the past year or so, Scarlett has used a dummy when tired or suffering from teething pain. Our plan was for her to use it when teething and then get rid of them before they started being a barrier to speech development and/or affecting her teeth alignment which are the two main concerns of using a dummy past age 1. Unfortunately for Scarlett her teeth are taking quite a long time so our 12 month cut off point started to get delayed. However, she’s now got to the age where she’s attempting to talk and say more words and with a dummy hanging out of her mouth, those words are harder to say or get distorted as she attempts to communicate with it in her mouth. And as that can lead to some sounds not developing properly, we decided it was time to ditch the dummies!

Now firstly, I would like to say that this is all personal preference, and some parents allow their children to have a dummy much longer, in the same way that some parents decide to never use one at all. In my group of friends with children Scarlett’s age, I have two who are dead against dummies and one who more than happily let her first child have one until he was 3 and a half and is doing the same with her second child. And I’m not saying that any of them are wrong. We’ve gone for a mid way compromise between the two main schools of thought because we were undecided and that’s what’s worked for us. 

We know we’re in for a few difficult days of ‘dummy withdrawal’ but already on day one of going cold turkey, she’s happily had both her normal naps. She took a bit longer to settle down for them but she then slept as usual. She’s stroppier today and obviously wants the comfort of her dummy but at this age, it’s much easier to break a habit in a few days than it is than when she’s older. And as she was able to sleep without, it’s obviously more of a comfort habit, than essentially required item.

So we’ve affectionately dubbed this time as Scarlett’s ‘dummy rehab’, we’ve been given her some dentinox when her gums seem painful and otherwise just accepting that a few extra tears for a little bit are inevitable. We’ve contacted family and friends who spend a lot of time with her or look after her to let them all know, as there’d be nothing worse than going through these few days only for someone to then unknowingly undo all our hard work and make us have to repeat the process all over again! And so far the response has been really positive, and we’ve warned that anyone breaking the rule is in for a big penalty! (Specifically a high cash fine so we can treat ourselves to a fancy dinner out if we have to do this process more than once!!) 

You may be reading this thinking, ‘alright you dictators!’ And usually we are very relaxed parents and don’t have lots of strict rules. But as we have three days now where we’re not due anywhere (we FINALLY have a bit of time to actually pack up our house!) it’s our very short window of time we can afford to have a slightly more screaming child without it affecting more people than ourselves (and the public in general)! We travel about a lot for work as a family and Scarlett is very well behaved, but if she’s upset and struggling without a dummy, it becomes impossible to take her to a busy theatre rehearsal, for example. And as we’re coming up to an extremely busy period with one Winter tour and one Paranormal festival on top of our normal schedules, the last thing we need is to have her suddenly screaming because she’s unsettled. It’s not fair on the people we work with, her or us! She generally enjoys exploring theatres and watching fight/acting rehearsals and workshops and it would make our jobs ten times harder for her not to be used to being without a dummy. So we’re being really strict as at her age, with no-one caving and giving her a dummy (even ‘just for a little bit’!!) it will only take a few days for her to adapt and find other ways of soothing herself or not being bothered by discomfort of her teeth coming through. So with a short window of time to achieve it, our relaxed approach is being replaced with a more determined, ‘don’t make this harder for her and us’ demanding approach! 

Saying all that, it’s never nice for a Mum to see her daughter crying knowing that she could stop the tears by giving her a dummy, but I know it’s for the best. And if it means she’s got a better chance of straighter healthier teeth and clearer, better developed speech, a few difficult days are more than worth it! 

I could get all my old child psychology textbooks out and start to talk about how it’s good for young children to be shown that her parents stand strong in their resolve for things like this so she gets a sense of security which can reduce the chance of things like low confidence and anxiety in the future. Or that even at this age, showing a child they can do something like cope without a dummy can install a sense of determination and lead to them sticking with things more in the future. But I’m not going to. Not because it’s not true but because frankly, even working within a psychology field I take all those things with a pinch of salt. Each child is so individual so we can try and give her the best chance developing in a happy healthy way, there are so many environmental and personal circumstances (not to mention her unchangeable genetic makeup) that will affect who she grows up to be, there’s no point in relying on these theories to guarantee she won’t end up either needing a brace, or lacking in confidence! 

So yes, the decision we’ve made is to take away the dummy, we don’t think this will magically mean she’s guaranteed a more successful life later on or that in doing so she will be problem free, we’re not quite that naive! But for us, this is the decision we’re making that’s best for our little family of three (and a half!). Hopefully I’ll be able to confirm next week that she’s dummy free! However this is parenting we’re talking about, so we all know there are no guarantees of a smooth ride…!

Looking Past ‘Perfection’…

Standard

There’s nothing quite so grounding as pregnancy. I am a professional person with some quite important work on. I teach and mentor other people in both a scientific and theatrical field and over the last few weeks when I’ve been back at work, I’ve been mentoring some students in their first year of University studying a relevant degree. To them, I am a sorted, successful, totally with it woman in her thirties with one child and one on the way and still maintaining a successful career. When I mention that we’re about to move house, that opinion that I’m out there having it all seems to be cemented.

The big secret that I’ve been trying to get across to a couple of particularly nervous and worried students who have asked whether it’s possible to have a family and a career is that, it does not matter how old you are, how confident you seem; all of us are winging it! Those that look like they have no problems and all the success are just slightly better at winging it than those who are obviously struggling!! I thought I’d share a few of the secrets that I shared with a couple of students last week.

  1. We’re moving house soon and only have a week or so to pack up our house and get everything sorted. This is happening whilst I’m almost four months pregnant. I spent one day in particular a couple of weeks ago diligently going through belongings and brutally throwing things away or putting things in piles to send to charity or take to the car boot. I also had to respond to some emails, send out some invoices, have a phone meeting with a solicitor and entertain my energetic 15 month old. WHAT a woman, juggling all of those things and keeping all those balls in the air. Oh….EXCEPT; my 15 month old drew all over the TV with a crayon, I never changed out of my pyjamas, and at one point whilst my little girl was napping I came across some photos of my husband and I when we were dating and I sat in soppy tears reminiscing for the hour that I could have got things done child free!! Oh and the postman got an eyeful when I had to open the door and my little darling decided to pull open Mummy’s dressing gown. The picture is less ‘with it’ woman and more ‘what a mess’ now isn’t it! On the outside, I was full time working/full time mothering and full time life-ing! On the inside, a must have afternoon nap was the only thing that kept me sane that day!
  2. My kidneys aren’t working very well so along with this pregnancy I’ve been having a lot of additional sickness and stomach cramps. Any pregnant women will recognise that stomach cramps are one of those symptoms that make you paranoid that something is wrong with the baby. During a recent script read through evening, I had a sudden onset of these cramps. I was surrounded by my production colleagues and our cast (some of whom I was meeting for the first time) and I was reading in for a role that we hadn’t yet cast. What I needed to do? : keep reading, stay professional and keep a cool head. What I wanted to do? : burst into tears, curl up with a hot chocolate and cuddle my husband. My weird compromise?! : I held my breath to try and control the pain and then had a coughing fit as I caught my own air, let a few escapee tears out as I was coughing so they’d be unnoticed, got some water and then rejoined the room, oh yes, and then when I got home, I got the hot chocolate, tears and cuddles! So not quite as ideal as I’d like but at least I managed to minimise the crazy!
  3. I’m a huge fan of an American series called ‘How To Get Away With Murder’. It’s something we’ve been binge watching late at night. However, in one episode (SPOILER ALERT) one of the characters is found to be six weeks pregnant. Oh, and she’s dead. Now, this is sad news. This (fiction!) is not, absolutely lose it sad but that is exactly what happened! I started with a few surreptitious tears that I could wipe away without my husband seeing. They then soon developed into some uncontrollable river, accompanied by stomach ache because I was trying not to cry which then only led to baby based madness! We paused the programme and called it a night on our TV session! However, after going to bed I inevitably couldn’t stop thinking about it because my brain hates me, so I spent quite a few hours wide awake watching comedy on my iPad trying to curb the my own irrational thoughts. I also spent a good half an hour in my daughters rooms looking at her sleeping peacefully, (luckily she didn’t wake up as a tearstained pregnant woman is probably quite a frightening image to wake up to!) safe to say the next morning I was not my brightest eyed or bushiest tailed! The image from the night before also took a good few days to leave my conscious thoughts. Such is the life of some with a very creative imagination! Good for writing scripts, crap for staying sane!

As you can see, from the above, the image of confident, professional success is slightly marred. But I am pretty confident that if you look behind the closed doors of every successful person man or woman, you will find they’re own version of coping with stress/dealing with whatever pressures they’re under. None of us have a manual for ‘how to win at life’ as nobody does ‘win’. There’s a famous saying that if everyone put their troubles in a bowl, and you knew what battles people were fighting, most of us would be happily taking our own problems back out instead of trying to swap! 

In the main, all the stresses in our life are down to our life choices. The cons to our chosen pros. So our life is busy and we’re never bored, which we love, but when illness or something similar gets in the way, it puts us under quite a lot of pressure; we work very much as a team and when one is out, the other is really quite swamped! We have quite a different way of life to the ’norm’ which sometimes makes getting support a challenge as we’re not necessarily on the same timescales or routines as friends and family. I know other people who love a more routine way of life but do sometimes get frustrated at not having enough time with their family and get fed up of having to get things done at the weekends. Likewise, those who work part time to have more time with family have more stress about having enough money; and on the other end of the same scale, some people enjoy a really luxurious lifestyle but consequently have to work all the time and their stress is not getting to enjoy said lifestyle as much as they’d like. And with parenting it’s the same, full time Mothers worry they are looking after their children well enough and working mother’s often worry they’re not around enough for their children, especially if they have to rely on a high level of childcare. Even when you know you’ve made the right decision for you and your children, no Mother, and in fact no parent, is sure they’ve got it 100% right a 100% of the time. It’s all about balancing your priorities.  

There are pros and cons to every decision in life you can make, but one of the things I try and put across to the new set of students is that it’s useless comparing yourself to others. Some people who are ore openly a mess have it together much more than those who manage to hide their stresses and anyone who seems to have a perfect life, has a whole other side to them that you don’t and won’t necessarily know about. So the 18 year olds who see me working in my chosen field with a happy family, about to move and expecting another child, don’t see the decade of hard work and ups and downs it took to get here. It’s twelve years since I started my first degree and when I had to write in one of my first assignments where I wanted to be in ten years, the picture was that of an eager 18 year old who had no real idea where I’d be! I know 18 year old me would be happy with where I ended up but a lot of what I’m doing would be so unknown to my younger self, how could I have planned it out then? The magic of our twenties, time for mistakes and trying things out and finding our way! 

That’s not to say I’m all sorted! We have a bucket list of things that we are constantly updating and we’re constantly altering plans based on where life takes us. In my first blog post I talked about wanting to go to the Great wall of China with my children and that’s still on there. But since March 2014 when I first considered becoming a parent, I had no idea that within Scarlett’s first eighteen months, I would travel to Paris, Brussels, Portugal and New York, only one of which being a holiday! So they weren’t on my plans, but certainly made a welcome addition to them. In my very early twenties I wanted to do a placement in a prison which then closed down; at the time I was bitterly disappointed as it affected my plans. However, my subsequent placement led to one of my eventual career paths. Age 19 I was devastated when my boyfriend broke up with me, and I told anyone that would listen that I was going to die alone (I’ve always been quite dramatic!). I look back now and smile at how I could have imagined that was the end for me, and I happen to have ended up with a boy I met aged 5. A relationship that has surpassed all others but one I wouldn’t have even been able to imagine back when I cranked up my Christina Aguilera CD’s and swore off all men! And aged 28 I still had no clear direction of where my life was really going. And now nearly 31, it’s not that I have a clear picture of the road ahead, I’ve just finally sat back and just let life happen to me. Sat back, relaxed and seen where it’s gone and when I started doing that, everything really did fall into place. Not without work and effort. But certainly with a lot less heartache and a lot less complicated. When I now have to choose which bit of a path to take, I look at my priorities (my children and my family) and I think about what would be best for them and what would make me happiest…period. I no longer start trying to predict what it might mean in five years because you can’t know. I no longer start with looking at which would make me the most money or look the most impressive or even what other people would think was ‘coolest’. All of those things (for me) just added unnecessary pressure and made decisions much harder to get to and I used to find I’d end up making the wrong choices for the wrong reasons. 

One student is struggling because they’ve broken up with their boyfriend, and in one of her messages to the forum I monitor, she explained to the others that maybe if she transferred to be near him, they could work things out. In the meantime she was posting lots of photos on social media to show him how much she didn’t care and how much fun she was having. So instead of her first couple of weeks of uni being about making friends and starting a new chapter, she’s writing her chapter based on what one other individual may or may not look at. Instead of focusing on her, she may look back and realise that she never really made the right decisions for her because of a short lived teenage relationship she can barely remember when she hits her late twenties. Of course, as a teenager, you’re not going to listen to some middle aged person telling you how to live your life, it’s the magical mess of being a teenager! I certainly didn’t, and there are certainly some questionable decisions I made back then that make me cringe now! It’s a cliche that in your thirties you become more at peace with who you are and who you want to be but in truth it’s because you’re no longer necessarily in an educationally induced rat race directly comparable to your peers. The element of competition, however unintended, is unavoidable. In school, or at uni, you spend day in, day out with your peers and you’re at a time of your life when you’re supposed to be developing and making life choices and moulding your future. in that kind of prolonged ‘audition of life’ period, how can you not look around you at see how other people are doing? And it tries to come into life at any points, what is so and so doing about her childs schooling?/how long is such a body taking for maternity leave?/that person doing a similar career to me has done it this way instead etc etc etc. There’s no end to it really, you have to take yourself out of the equation and stop the comparisons, stop the competitions. Just stop! For me, I’m happily open about the tough times and the cons of my chosen life path because a) I’m happy with the choices I’ve made so don’t feel any reason to hide them and b) I think it’s pointless to pretend you’re invincible. That doesn’t stop me trying to act as if I can take on everything! In fact anyone who read my last post will know that I’m on strict instructions to stop trying to say yes to everything, or people please by getting involved in everything I can. My life has and most likely always has been chaos, which suits me and my family down to the ground! I love the fact that I’m currently: researching as part of a team with some clinical trials, preparing for a Paranormal Festival which has one show I’ve written and one show I’m producing in it, I’m sitting on an audition panel for an upcoming Winter UK tour show, I’m on a committee for a charity event at the beginning of next year AND I’m in the middle of moving house! And although sometimes our lifestyle has us burning the candle at both ends (and now i’m pregnant I have had to make some changes to my future schedule), we honestly wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m sure some people are doing it ‘better’, earning more from individual projects, or gaining more notoriety, or throwing up less during their day (morning sickness never does just stay in the morning after all!) or however you want to try and compare other people. In the same way that some people are slimmer than me, wear better clothes than I do, have fancier haircuts than I do, or an keep flowers alive for longer than I do (which is easy to do, I’m useless at keeping flowers alive and consequently am not a fan of them!)! But where do you draw the line at comparisons? You can drive the best car and some will have a cleaner house. You can star in an award winning film and someone else will have a happier family life. You can produce the most beautiful diamond and there’ll always be people who prefer rubies! It’s all swings and roundabouts. And for my students, the comparisons may seem to those of us that have been there and done that, slightly more futile, but it’s all relevant when you’re going through it. So at 18, if you turn up at a fancy dress party in a less well made Wonderwoman outfit, what you don’t appreciate at the time is that for some people, the fact that you’ve made it yourself is way more impressive than the girl whose just gone and paid for one. Likewise, the girl whose desperately concentrated on her ex boyfriend runs the risk of not noticing the several boys who would probably love to get to know her, and the girl she is, not the girl she’s trying to portray. And not just about other attention, she’s so busy competing with someone whose not even necessarily aware of it, that she’s not enjoying herself. She may have posted the most social media pictures but when you look at it from the outside, ‘winning’ that doesn’t seem all that attractive or conducive to a happy start to university.

There’s nothing quite so grounding as pregnancy. In the same way that it doesn’t matter who you are, we all use the bathroom (even if you own a diamond encrusted toilet, it won’t mean you’ve done anything more glamorous than those using a regular one!), and every pregnant woman goes through their own set of unglamorous and unavoidable symptoms! It’s hopefully a refreshing reminder to students who perhaps think that i’m breezing through successfully to see me run to the bin in the corner to throw up. Granted it’s not pleasant for anyone involved but it may at least make them think twice about my ‘perfect’ and ‘easy’ life! Instead of competing we should all be giving each other a helping hand when needed. Life is hard, it’s painful and some of us all feel like we need break from it sometimes. However, dear friends, what we all have in common is a hundred percent record for getting through those tough days we didn’t think we’d get through. And next time we’re finding it tough, we could all do with being reminded of that. But before you look at your neighbour/sister/best friend/man at bus stop and think how easy they must have it, just know that even if you’ve caught them on their best day when you’re on your worst, nobody is without their own internal battles. So if you find yourself comparing your life with others either through social media or when you catch up with them over coffee, try and see yourself through more positive eyes, try having a look through your own highlights reel and remember that living YOUR life really is something quite wonderful. 

A New Baby, The Sequel!

Standard

Good afternoon dear friends and comrades! I hope your week is going well and you all have exciting plans this weekend (and I count things like zip lining AND things like sitting on the sofa in pyjamas with a takeaway as equally exciting!). For myself and my husband, we both have some work on, a family meal to attend and we’ll try and get in some sofa slouching as well at some point.

I am feeling much better, and am starting to re-emerge back into the real world. The antibiotics have finally done their job and I in the meantime am waiting for my kidneys to be put through some more tests to get them sorted on a more permanent basis. Now a few family members and close friends guessed. After all, a kidney infection is something I’ve had before at quite a specific time. Likewise, it seemed odd to some of my friends in the medical profession that I was given such weak antibiotics when clearly a stronger drug would have been a better option. 

I thought it would be harder to keep a secret, and as we were high risk and going through a difficult time health wise, I was worried about people guessing and then heartbreak following. HOWEVER, the ‘benefit’ of being so poorly is that I’ve barely seen anyone over the last month and a half! Much easier to keep a secret!

So what is this secret I’m alluding to? 

Scarlett is going to be a big sister!

12074539_10153500729501117_4652441557743867456_n

Yes indeed, our little family of three is expecting a fourth player at the beginning of April next year and we have recently had our 12 week scan to confirm that baby is healthy and strong, if anything, significantly healthier than I am at the moment!!

We are extremely excited and after a worrying first trimester, we are looking forward to a *fingers crossed* smoother ride from here till delivery day although I’m sure it will have it’s own ups and downs to provide! 

And I have a confession to make, when I blogged to say I was continuing my blog…we knew we had a little bun brewing in the oven! So I’m looking forward to seeing how this pregnancy compares with my last, how having number two compares to having number one, and how Scarlett will react to the new addition! One things for sure, I won’t get as many nap times as I did last time!! And when I was younger the idea that I would one day run upstairs with a toddler under my arm to then sit her in an empty bath whilst I vomit was not something I pictured! However, luckily Scarlett not only isn’t bothered, she finds the visual hilarious! If only I could find it quite as entertaining! 

Like last time we’ve managed to be moving house when I’ll be roughly four months pregnant again, only this time we’ll also have a toddler to negotiate! Unlike last time, I’m not due to be on stage at seven months pregnant but I do have a couple of work trips abroad! All in all, I’m sure it’ll be chaotic, fun, ridiculous and a wonderful roller coaster! 

As with the last time, any tips of having a second child will always be welcomed, as well as your stories and anecdotes! It is not true that having a second child means you’re a more experienced parent, you’re an amateur all over again about to embark on the journey of multiple children! So it’s back to square one on the learning curve for us and we look forward to everything this time has to offer!