Midnight fatigued feelings…

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As I type this, it’s 05.21 and I haven’t been to bed yet. Baby Scarlett has a very blocked nose which is making sleeping almost impossible for her and she keeps waking up and crying. My husband has a busy weekend coming up with a lot of driving so I am currently downstairs with the Moses basket down here with me so I can keep the cuddles going for her whilst not disturbing my husband, who has been a pillar of support over the last couple of difficult days and really needs some rest!

It must be very confusing for her not to be able to breathe through her nose and it’s heartbreaking not to be able to do anything for her. I’m no longer bothering to try and go to sleep, it just makes it harder to get up each time! So instead I decided to go back and have a little read of all the messages on Facebook of congratulations and well wishes from when she was born. And, like I did then, several tears came to my eyes as I read through all the heartfelt expressions of love, support and good luck.

Admittedly, I’m VERY tired, and my emotional control isn’t what it used to be before those pesky maternal hormones came into play!

But ask anyone that knows me and they’ll confirm that I’m cranky when I’m tired, I’ve always been bad at sleeping but I’ve always caught up or slept at funny times to ensure I had enough rest time. That’s not quite how it works when you have a baby. Scarlett woke me up at 2am on the 1st July when my waters broke and I haven’t caught up since! There’s no time, like almost every parent, I walk around on fumes most of the time. But you know what, it’s brilliant.

Every day, every single day when I look into that little girls face, with her beautiful blue eyes I feel like I could do anything. Every smile lights up the entire room. Today, despite the fact that she has been feeling poorly, when the two of us were standing together in the lounge with her, my husband chatting to her with her in my arms, she let out her first proper baby giggle, and the emotions took my breath away. In that moment, I swelled with pride and my heart nearly burst with love, not only for her but for my husband as well. We made this tiny little new person and she amazes us every day. It’s hard, it’s really hard, especially when it’s 05.21 and you’re weighing up whether to make Camomile tea or admit defeat and put on a pot of coffee so you can survive the following 24 hours (especially knowing full well my husbands away for the night working!). And I know it’s not a night of missed sleep that I’ll get back, tonight is gone and there’s no retrievals. But I couldn’t be happier.

Years ago, nearly 30 years ago in fact, my Dad wrote a poem. I should tell you, my Father is not known for his theatrical talents, he freely admits never to having read a book (since he had to at school) and although he’s very supportive of me, creative pursuits are not really his bag. However, he once told me that he couldn’t adequately explain how he felt when I was born, and that this once in a lifetime poem, just sort of came to him. And I think his words actually sum up that crazy haze when you realise your life has been taken over by someone else, that moment you realise someone has set up a permanent camp in the largest part of your heart, really quite well. (I should also point out that my Mum is more the creative talent, and used to write a lot of poems, but she didn’t keep them so heartbreakingly I never got to read them)

So in fact that’s enough from me, I’m going to try and get at least a cat nap, and I’ll leave you with my Dad’s words…

“When I looked at my little girl
The feelings I experience put me in a whirl
As she lays there asleep
My thoughts are ones I want to keep

I just stand there by her bed awhile
Whilst I look at that angelic smile
The look on her face is so peaceful
What a shame she has to age and become tall

As each day becomes part of our past
I hope and pray my feelings will last”

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Our Next Chapter…

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A much more in depth post to follow but for now just the below.

I’m delighted to announce to you dear friends, that our beautiful baby daughter Scarlett Lois Lade Jordan, was born by emergency C-Section at 5.57am on Tuesday 1st July. And as I lay in hospital gazing at her, the emotions my brain is capable of putting together are below before normal blogging services resume shortly…

We thought we knew the date we’d meet you,
But you had other ideas,
At 2am the waters did break,
Followed by elation mixed with our fears.

Your Daddy and I spoke about menial things,
To keep us both calm in the car,
We knew we were soon to gaze at your face,
Introductions really weren’t all that far.

No time to really fully understand,
It all went by as if in a blur,
We were all of a sudden in hospital gowns,
Scared about how healthy you were.

Daddy held Mummy’s hand, and never let go,
Looking each other right in the eye,
And then all of a sudden, it happened so fast,
Tears flowed as we heard your first cry.

Words can’t express what you mean to us now,
The love that just overflows,
We try to hold on to each moment we have,
We’re so aware of how fast the time goes.

So Scarlett our girl, if you know only one thing,
Make it how much you are loved by us both,
There’s a sparkle in our eyes that’s only for you,
A love stronger than any other oath.

We both fell in love all over again,
When our family grew from two to three,
Scarlett we love you ever so much,
You’re everything to Daddy and me.

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Without Daddy Diary…

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Becoming a single parent is rarely something that people choose, and I don’t think many will mind when I make the assumption that it makes pregnancy a lot harder, especially for the first time. And when I say single, I don’t necessarily mean just without a partner, I mean without at least one or two people close by that you can truly rely on when you need help, support, advice or a shoulder to cry on. 

I have a few friends who are no longer with their partners but raising children and I admire them all so much. Having never really thought about it before, since becoming pregnant I have so heavily leant on my husband and we have gone through it all so much as a twosome, that the idea of going through it all by myself is frightening. This week, he is away working, with limited ability to chat because of our opposing work schedules, which has given me a really brief glance into what this journey would be like without him. I don’t drive so had to get myself places, he wasn’t here to do the big food shops so I did it day by day walking to and from the shop, I went to the Dr’s and hospital appointments alone and generally just didn’t have anyone to lean on to help with the stupid things like taking the bin out on the right day. All very small things that in reality, are not problems. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not crying into my Starbucks Chai Latte claiming life is too hard because I had to empty the bins myself and as I’m pregnant they feel slightly heavier and expecting anyone to do a fundraiser for me (although if anyone would like to send me a freshly baked lemon cake I’m not going to say no..!) HOWEVER, to take my mind off feeling soppy and sad at not having him at home for the week, I decided to turn it into a mini experiment on how different being 6 months pregnant would be doing it on my own.

For the purposes of this ‘highly scientific’ experiment, I kept a daily ‘Without Daddy diary,’ which is shown below. When I finished it and read it back, I was very tempted to re-write bits of it to sound less whiny but I haven’t, these are my thoughts and feelings, quite often last thing at night each day.

Day 1Watched Woman in Black on Channel Four, stopping after 20 minutes because there was no big brave man next to me. A week without him and I definitely won’t be watching any horrors. I used to love horrors, but now mixed in with pregnancy hormones, stepping off the bus is considered a potential terrifying situation. Without my protector at home (yes I should have been born in the 1920’s) living ‘safely’ already goes to ridiculous extremes.

Day 2A quick appointment with a consultant this morning, as I’m epileptic, the pregnancy has a few extra challenges to be monitored, and as not enough sleep can be a bit more of a danger, these appointments are always nerve wracking. I pretend its no big deal but my biggest fear in reality is disappearing on my child. I never remember having a fit and the idea that I wouldn’t be completely in control of mine and therefore my babies safety keeps me awake at night. I have never had to express this to Tom, he knows, he understands, and he has been so supportive. He can’t make a few appointments because of work but usually I know I don’t need to be strong because when I get home, I can have a little cry over burning a piece of toast and he will make it all ok again. Today was different. Today I was glad to have a rehearsal as it meant being surrounded by people, and I really enjoyed myself but I didn’t get home till 10.30pm so by the time I’d then made dinner, I was exhausted and just flopped into bed and left the washing up for tomorrow…which I bet I’ll regret! Appointment went fine but it all swirls round my mind so hopefully I’m tired enough just to sleep. However, saying all that, I also got a lot of writing done and during the afternoon before rehearsal had a very productive day, lots of work done AND two blog posts, so I’m extremely tired but the creative juices were definitely still flowing!

Day 3 – A busy day today although socially rather than professionally. Caught up with a very old friend and her three little girls. A Starbucks lunch followed by an afternoon at the play farm. And although it was so much fun spending some time with the three little ones, it really tired me out. Having got up at 5.30am after a really restless night of barely any sleep. Not being able to drive meant I also had to get the bus to and from town, plus the walk between home and the bus stop. And then there was the washing up from getting in so late from last night, and cooking and hanging up the washing. Not even particularly stressful as schedules go but really made me realise just how much my husband is my lifeline. If he was here, he’d have sorted the washing up for me whilst I did dinner, given me a massage to ease my aching back and shoulders from playing with the girls and cuddled me to tell me that it was ok that I had struggled today. Instead, I was really cheered up to see my brother and his girlfriend (although I was slightly quiet and rubbish company I expect!) as by the time the evening came along, I felt very teary. I could not do this alone. My husband is my rock and my world and I really couldn’t do any of it without him. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a really lovely day but the strain of doing it all on my own has definitely started to sink in.

Day 4 – Very tired this morning because of another night with no sleep, stomach pains, itchiness and a general random sense of anxiety to blame. But a lot of work to get done this morning. Luckily, I am able to do it from home, in my pyjama’s with a cup of tea so I can’t really feel too sorry for myself! Another Dr’s appointment this afternoon but just a general check up and although the weather was muggy, it was nice to go for a bit of a refreshing walk after a tired morning. Also walked to the shops to get some bits in and suddenly realised how heavy just a few cans make shopping bags when you have to walk to and from the supermarket so got quite a sweat on by the time I got back in. Then had a few friends round in the evening and it was so much fun to see them, but cooking dinner for them and tidying the house afterwards I noticed how much more of a strain it was to do by myself and not with my husband helping whilst we chat about the day. Otherwise though I was feeling ok and although it still seems very quiet at home, I definitely wasn’t feeling quite as in despair as yesterday had found me!

Day 5 – A busy day working today and another appointment, this time with the epilepsy nurse, normally, my weeks aren’t so medically filled up but having just changed surgeries, I’ve had a fair few extra, meeting my new GP and checking in with the new people in charge of me and baby. Then an evening rehearsal of singing and (very minimal for me) dancing, which was a lot of fun and just what I needed because I spent most of the day inexplicably weepy and feeling down. Missing my husband, the only chance we get to chat throughout this week is at bedtime when he needs to be quiet so as not to wake his hosts and I am at my most tired and restless. Thought a lot today about people whose partners are often away for longer amounts of time, people who are doing it without partners and without close family near by. I absolutely could not do it on my own. I always prided myself on enjoying time alone and one thing I have done this week is had some real times of absolute calm and serenity and enjoyed time by myself, a familiar feeling from being a small child. But the rest of it, nope, couldn’t do it alone. By now I would have moved down to Brighton and moved myself into my retired Dad’s flat making it quite clear that I wasn’t leaving! Still, had a blast with my fellow thespians and then by the time I got home at 10.30 I enjoyed a quick episode of Grey’s Anatomy and then fell asleep before even touching my cup of tea or running the bath I had been planning. 

Day 6 – Woke up feeling much more refreshed after an interrupted but overall much better night of sleep and my God does it make a difference to how you feel, suddenly I feel like I can take on the day! Of course this may have a lot to do with the fact that I know I only have to take on the day, the evening sees the return of my husband! It’s only been 6 days without him but it has seemed like ages. And from reading back my diary posts, my God isn’t my inner monologue whiny!! Looking back it really hasn’t been that bad and I’ve got everything done that I needed to get done but it’s those low moments that I would usually share and therefore not deal with on my own that really impact at the end of the day. I’ve got another couple of articles to get on with writing, a lovely weekend planned and tonight in bed I’ll be snuggling down next to my best friend and husband (that’s the same person of course, I’m not giving some glimpse into a secret exciting double life…!)

So as you can see, the superhero picture I brazenly put as my picture to accompany this blog is ever so slightly unjustified! Next week he is away again, although only for four days this time and in some ways I feel more prepared. Food shopping needs to be done daily and I need to avoid picking up lots of cans! The bin is quite heavy, so I need to empty it before it becomes quite as full. If I leave the washing up, no-one else will do it. Just a few really simple things that you really would hope I wouldn’t need a little homemade experiment to find out! 

But it’s not so much the practical things. It’s the emotional side. It’s the moments that I probably wouldn’t have burst into tears if I was able to talk through them a bit. At rehearsal I was cheered up by friends without asking for it or even having made it known that I was upset (except one particular moment during singing where a few escapee tears gave the game away and my director gave me a hug and told me it was all going to be fine. I of course didn’t have time to explain that in fact the tears were traitors and I was in fact totally fine and didn’t need a hug, but..actually don’t let go just yet, ok then Sheila if YOU need a hug I’ll let you make me a part of it and just because I obviously have some allergic reaction going on right now and a big hug seems to have cleared it up a bit does not mean I’m struggling and actually really needed that…)

ANYWAY! I can’t wait to see my husband later today and we have a very busy evening of absolutely nothing but chilling out together to get done tonight. I’m so grateful to have such a bond with my partner and I have learnt this week that ultimately, yes it is harder but you do find ways of dealing with it, thats that crazy game of life (the actual game of life, not a board game reference!) you absolutely find ways round and find ways of making the best of things regardless and it’s human nature to be able to get past some indescribable difficulties with a smile. And I’m not just talking about my pathetic week of what can barely be called solitude and emotional incapability, you only have to watch 15 minutes of Sports Relief on a couple of weeks ago to see that the human race is capable of real suffering and real guts to fight through it all and still raise a smile. But we all know that, we all know we’re incredibly lucky really with our lives and our circumstances and that there will always be someone much worse off than ourselves. But it’s all relative.

I COULD be a single parent, I COULD manage without my husband, but I am so incredibly lucky not to have to. I’m so incredibly lucky to be able to have a little ridiculous experiment knowing full well that in a few days I’ll be back in my family cocoon. I admire any of you doing it on your own, Mothers or Fathers. I absolutely salute you, especially those whose partners are away for long periods of time without necessarily the guarantee that they’ll be safely back. I am lucky enough not to have to be strong enough to deal with that eventuality in my life as it is. And yet this week I proved I was still selfish enough to dwell on the fact that as an epileptic there were all these potential extra dangers of having a baby, in reality, a very minor issue. We all have the little bits in our life that makes things easier or harder, the important thing is to remember what we have, remember to always at least try and cherish everything we have. So keep smiling comrades! 

Rollercoaster of crazy…

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Pregnancy for me has been one big roller coaster. Being epileptic, I’m not allowed on roller coasters and this is my excuse for my inability to handle the sudden emotional turbulence!

First let me tell you this, I sit here currently with a cup of tea feeling calm, collected, at one with my growing bump, having just received a lovely text from my loving husband who is working away for a few days, after a lovely weekend spent together, and a fabulous brunch and afternoon tea with my brother, Mum and Mother-in-law for Mothers Day. I even went along to a rehearsal yesterday afternoon remembering all of my lines and in between scenes having a real giggle with my colleagues. Life is good, and on one level, things could not be going better.

Sounds all a bit like the films portray doesn’t it, how sickening…read on dear friend…

Last week, I had the following meltdowns;

1) As of yet, in week 25, I have no stretch marks. I know, poor me right? Thing is, I spent a lot of time talking about how stretch marks are like a map of your journey in becoming a Mother. Stretch marks are something to be proud of. Your baby created those whilst developing. So after reading in a pregnancy guide that from week 23 you might see stretch marks, I decided that somehow I was less of a Mother and a woman because my body didn’t have any. I wanted my map, I wanted my baby pattern! Yes this is ridiculous. And there’s still plenty of time, and believe me, once any arrive, I’m sure I’ll decide actually I was ok without any but for one morning last week, I was almost inconsolable over my lack of them.

2) I am also still getting quite regular sickness, the baby book says that this should subside around week 12 so at week 25, 13 weeks on, I’m currently looking for an email address to send my strongly worded complaint to. Sickness in the first trimester was twice/thrice daily so in some ways, yes it has definitely got better. But 2/3 times a week definitely still takes it out of me. Although I’m sure plenty of women have worse, I found it difficult to remember this on Wednesday when after throwing up a particularly tasty dinner, I burst into tears because (and I quote) “we’re on a budget, we can’t afford for me to be throwing up food!” Predictably, whilst stroking my back, my husband couldn’t help but laugh at me, which just increased the number of tears. Now I was affecting our finances AND my husband thought I was ridiculous. All in all, not my most impressive moment of sensible thinking.

3) I’ve been having a lot of nightmares, a LOT. I understand this is quite common. For me, I’ve always been quite scared of dogs but that fear has recently gone into overdrive as I’ve had many dreams where dogs attack my stomach, or birds attack my stomach (whilst pecking out of my eyes…obviously…) and I wake up in a cold sweat because of how vivid these dreams are. Now, also at this time, my husband and I are making our way through Game of Thrones, admittedly quite a bit later than the rest of the world. But to be honest, it may well be a bit delayed even more for me. I won’t post any spoilers in case there’s another one or two people as behind as I am. But I don’t think it’ll give away any plot when I say there’s a lot of vicious dog attacks, a lot of torture and killing and brutality, and a lot of crows flying about the place ominously. On Thursday, we were watching an episode and lets just say, a form of torture involved a rat on someones stomach. Even typing any more details makes me feel a bit ill again but I burst into tears and then had a go at my husband for letting it happen. Before you ask, no, he was not involved in the script, no, he was not involved in production and no, he had nothing to do with it happening. So why have a go at him like a crazed woman with no hold on her senses? That’s a good question and I will answer anyone asking why I was being so unreasonable with this, “I’m pregnant and unstable, leave me alone, unless you have a slice of lemon cake.”

I’d love to say those are the only three instances of ‘crazy’ this week, but it’s not. There have been tears over accidentally having a caffeinated latte when I’d ordered decaf and how much of a terrible Mother that inevitably makes me. There’s been tears over leaving Brighton after a quick trip to see my Dad with my brother because ‘it’s just so great to spend time with my family and I miss them so much.’ (always the case but I’m normally much better at holding it together!) And there’s been tears because I remembered my brother turns 21 this year and as he’s nearly a decade younger than me, he’s always been very much my baby brother and the fact that he has become an adult so quickly reminded me how quickly my baby will become an adult, which of course was then reason enough for a mini meltdown.

So yes, my Facebook profile shows a brilliant picture of my Mum, Mum-in-law and myself laughing together after a great brunch, and a photo from a date night with Tom where we really had a great day together. Funnily enough, I chose to not post a picture sat on the bathroom floor lamenting my obvious disregard to our food budget.

I have always been quite capable of handling my emotions and have been accused in the past of being somewhat unemotional outwardly. Well one of the biggest changes I have experienced over the past few months is definitely a complete and utter loss of that control. Things are wonderful, things are terrible, life’s a dream, life’s overwhelming. Having a good cast of people around you along for the ride, or at least to try and help you laugh at the inevitably awful ride photo at the end, is the only way I think I could ever get through it. It doesn’t matter who these people are, family, friends, strangers on a bus that make you feel better with a nice remark. Personally I have leant especially heavily on my husband, Dad and brother who are very reliable and always help guide me back to sanity when I’m in the middle of a meltdown. And then both Mothers have been an essential source of emotional support and feminine advice.  The one thing all five of them have in common is that none of them have at any point made me feel like an alien (I do that plenty enough myself!) So cherish those people, they are your lifeline when you’re struggling and if I’ve learnt anything (the hard way after a few months of stubbornness…) it’s that we can’t do this alone all of the time!

Also to be cherished are those moments of serenity and the pure absolute joy that pregnancy can also bring. This weekend when my husband left to go to work for a few days, he kissed me and my stomach and said goodbye to baby and he got rewarded with a little kick goodbye and the look in his eyes when I can see just how clearly he loves both me and our unborn child are the moments I will look back on forever (and probably the moments we’ll think about when we start talking about having a second child..!) Whatever your situation, those moments of joy are so much more important than the hard parts. In the future those are the moments you’ll look back on so however tough things can sometimes feel. Hold onto those moments comrades!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my serenity is being interrupted, I have washing out on the line and it looks like it’s starting to rain…it’s an upsetting situation, because I didn’t check the weather this morning…a really good Mother would’ve checked, in fact wouldn’t a really good Mother be more on top of the washing than I currently am at the moment? How am I going to manage when the baby arrives?…uh oh…crazy’s awakening…!