Motivational Mini Figure…

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I’ve been quite overwhelmed recently. Because of how things have come together, neither my husband or I are getting any time off in May; my workload has had to be temporarily much higher than normal & we have 2 kids under 3. 

This morning, by the time I’d had 3 cups of coffee, 9 different people needed things from me in a way that left me feeling extremely drained emotionally & intellectually. I was at an ‘hmmm, no not sure about today’ kind of place. 

Today I’m having an online discussion with students about a documentary so that’s therefore been playing over a few times on the TV in the kitchen while I respond to their questions and debate points, whilst also washing up and cooking. While doing this, I idly grabbed a Kinder Egg. I’m not a big fan of them so I gave the chocolate to the girls and I opened up the toy, and there was the pictured little badass. Reading the leaflet there’s 8 potential superhero lady figures, but only one is brunette and wearing purple. In some ways it reminded me of my blogs profile picture. It felt like a sign, like a little ‘you got this’. She’s now on the window sill & I’ve had an extra boost of energy from the superhero within. Because like a lot of people I know, sometimes, the biggest boost you can get is from within. So I’d like to extend a bit of this Kinder Egg delivered kickassery to you all. We all feel overwhelmed sometimes, we all have lists to get done we think we’re never going to get to the end of. And sometimes we all need an extra boost to keep our heads up & keep going with a smile. Love to you all, and remember, we all have 100% record of getting through the tough days, you’ve got this.

Baby enforced break..

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Today, my littlest Ladey has been easing my pain. I’ve had an itchy ear for months, for the last week I’ve been feeling a bit dizzy, and last night it went from annoying to really painful, and this morning the ear started bleeding. It’s nothing serious, I got it checked out today, and I’m going back in a few days to make sure it’s cleared up or is clearing and in the meantime I’m going to just have a quiet couple of days while I get my balance back and the ear clears up! 
Scarlett isn’t with me on Tuesdays, and my husband is at work, so Holly came with me to my appointment. When we got home I ran a bath to try and relax a bit. I put our baby in her static walker with some toys next to the bath and hopped in. She wasn’t happy about it, normally she happily plays while I have a soak and chat to her but today she was really agitated. 

And so I picked her up, stripped her off and lay her on my chest in the bath. And I suddenly realised, my God I needed this. 

I have spent the last few days worrying about the dizziness and ear pain without mentioning it, and I’ve been stressing out without even knowing why I had a knot in my stomach or that anxious feeling in my chest. But then with my baby suddenly quiet and still lying with me, I felt the pent up emotions dissolve into quiet tears. 

Why so stressed about ear pain? I’m not really, it was a focus point. As soon as I exhaled and let go of the tension I realised; I’m nervous about my new job and hope all my preparatory work is ok, I’m anxious about doing all I can to make sure Scarlett has the best support at home alongside the nursery. I’m worried about ensuring I have calculated enough in these last couple of months of retained leave to make sure we’re ok financially. I’m conscious of keeping on top of everything and not letting anything fall through the gaps, and I’m not getting enough sleep, to name a few! 

None of these are unusual, we all have a thousand and one worries in our heads at any given time. We all try and catch it all like balloon strings to make sure nothing slips out of our grasp. And we all work as hard as we can to support ourselves and our loved ones while trying to ensure we do the things that are important and that we’re passionate about. 

And SOMETIMES, we have to let go of at least some of the strings and trust that there’s a ceiling there that is within our reach so we don’t go mad, or pass a few of them onto a comrade that has a hand free!

My husband text me today when I updated him to tell me that tonight I was not to do ANYTHING but relax, and let him take care of some things that needed doing. He’s amazing and I will no doubt have another good cry on his shoulder later tonight! And it’s a huge relief to know my teammate is there, on side, ready to pick up any balls I need to drop.

But for now I feel a bit like I have the best form of therapy, or the most powerful healing pill. As I type, I am breathing slowly in time with my beautiful (now sleeping) baby girl with the bath water surrounding us and her little arms wrapped round my neck like she knew. She knew Mummy needed a quiet cuddle to cry and let all the stresses of a fast paced, busy schedule go.

By the end of today I will feel much better and I will be ready to face tomorrow with a renewed vigour. Because nothing is really ‘wrong’, I’m not feeling my best, and life gets on top of us all sometimes. 

And I know a lot of us are too hard on ourselves. We work day in day out to keep up with this 24/7 lifestyle that’s needed to keep afloat and succeed these days! We’re checking emails and replying straight away, but not being too stuck to our computers. We’re eating kale because it’s good for the heart, but we’re saying yes to a brownie because life’s too short. We’re getting plenty of sleep but getting up an hour earlier to fit in yoga and staying up later to make sure everything’s done. Everyone is doing their best! But sometimes, sometimes we need to run a bath, have a cuddle, have a cry, tell yourself everything’s going to be ok, acknowledge that you’re doing your best and that’s all that can be expected of you. Give yourself a break, exhale. 

And everyone needs good teammates around them, people who will hold the strings, pick up the balls, support you as you support them. And sometimes we need to make sure we’re asking for help! It’s often much easier to deal with someone else’s problem than it is to deal with your own, swapping can often make a huge difference, or at least gain a perspective from someone who has your best interest at heart and won’t judge you as harshly as you judge yourself! 

My bath time cuddle came at a perfect time, and it reminded me that I needed to stop and break a little bit. My to do list hasn’t disappeared, the stresses won’t indefinitely stay away, but I really needed this perfect moment, and it feels like my seven month old choreographed it for me! 

If anyone else is feeling the stress or struggling under your life load, PLEASE give yourself a break. Stop for at least twenty minutes and let yourself off all the hooks your hanging yourself from. Everything’s going to be ok. 

Nappy sack solution…

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It’s been an extremely busy week. With a baby we have to be particularly organised, especially as we’re out and about so often.

Normally, although I would by no means consider us expert level, (our lives are and will most likely always be pretty chaotic!) we have, after five months of being parents, pretty much got it down to a way that works for us. The changing bag is our lifeline that contains everything we need and we always ensure we have a supply of ready feeds etc in tow.

However, sometimes, this well oiled machine (‘well oiled’ is probably the wrong term but sounds much better than ‘haphazard whirlwind of chaos’!) goes slightly off track and this week, well…Mummy derailed!

If you had asked me a few days ago,

‘Danielle, have you ever dressed your baby in a plastic bag?’

I would have said,

‘Don’t be ridiculous, plastic bags are not appropriate baby wear!’

On the other hand, if you’d have asked me on Thursday, I…well it’s still no, Scarlett’s not been going round in a plastic bag dress just yet. HOWEVER, whilst Daddy was teaching in one room, Mummy started changing baby in the other, and soon realised that just after throwing away a dirty nappy, I was in fact without a clean one. The system had faltered, the changing bag was empty. Where we were situated, there was luckily a local Sainsbury’s still open but a good ten minutes walk away from my currently smiling and now naked baby.

At this stage I had two choices, 1) run to Sainsbury’s (not to mention first cutting through the very full Stage Combat class) clutching my baby’s bare bottom in the hopes that in that time she didn’t wee or worse all over me…OR (and yes I’m sure those of a more logical mindset could come up with more than these two solutions but these were the only two my brain gave me at the time!) 2) come up with some kind of homemade alternative.

Although option 1 does sound more my style, I went with option 2 and started searching round for something to use.

I’ll cut a longer story down to just the result, after ten minutes and a lot of faffing, my beautiful baby girl had a pack of tissues unfolded and wrapped around her tooshie, all held into place with three nappy sacks tied around her in a loose attempt at a secure (and waterproof!) nappy alternative. The ten minute walk to Sainsbury’s was still cut down to seven minutes due to a not completely convinced nappy creator, and in less than twenty minutes we were back and Scarlett was returned to the traditional undergarment of choice for a five month old. And, amazingly, despite slight action, her clothes remained unaffected!

Was it my proudest moment as a mother? No, certainly not, I tied three nappy sacks round a pack of tissues wrapped round my baby girls bum because I didn’t pack enough nappies at the beginning of the day for crying out loud!

However, I like to fly the flag for equality; ridiculous actions when looking after their children is stereotypically supposed to be reserved for the Dads, but my husband is generally more sensible than I am, (well, he probably could have made a more impressive homemade nappy anyway!) but I’m happy to prove that it’s not just Dads that end up in less than catalogue worthy parenting situations. In fact, I’d like to happily fly the flag to prove that practically no parent in the real world behaves like the catalogues/brochures or books portray. We stumble along as we go, picking up tips, learning from our mistakes and gaining insight from our own very individual experiences. Children are very resilient, and utilising simple bits of common sense, the odd cock up is not going to eternally damage them, the stress from worrying about being a perfect parent probably won’t help though; if I worried about being a supermum from the cover of the fancy magazines, the result would likely be that Scarlett grew up with an eternal sense of panic and an inherited feeling of not being quite good enough. Sod that! The reason everyone loves the Bridget Jones character is because realistically we are all the Bridget Jones character! Very few people really know what they’re doing in life but we’re all still managing. So if I forget a coat for her and it’s colder than expected, she’s not going to look particularly fashionable wrapped in my jumper, but she will at least be warm and safe. A nappy sack isn’t a permanent solution for clothing, but it’s better than leaving her in her own filth or letting her just soil an outfit.

What I’ve really learnt from this experience is not just put more nappies in the changing bag(!), but that really, it’s not about the problems that arise, but the way you deal with them that matters.

Life happens to all of us, with even less control when you’re a parent, but we’re all doing the best we can and sometimes we’ll find ourselves in slightly less than ideal circumstances. But comrades, let’s all admit these occasions happen, allow ourselves to just laugh them off, and give ourselves a break.

It’s been an extremely busy week, and with a baby we have to be particularly organised….but let’s be honest, even with a strict daily routine you can never be totally in control of your day to day. We have the kind of lifestyle where a regular day can easily see my husband in one room being paid to play Zombie warm up games with students, while I wrap my baby up in random items from my bag in another. So if you’re anything like us, and often find yourselves having to improvise solutions, relax, I highly doubt we’re quite as much the minority the glossy magazines make out. And anyway, I’ve heard that shabby chic nappy sack look is all the rage these days dahhhling!

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Insomnia Insanity…

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As every parent or parent to be knows, there are several things you no longer do once growing a baby or having a baby. Those pesky 8 hours of sleep that interrupts your 24 hour day is one of those things you can say goodbye to for a start! Now I have never been a great sleeper anyway, and it seems my daughter already takes after me by being extremely active during the night! The other things I’ve noticed in the third trimester more than the rest of the pregnancy is two things that seem trivial but have a much bigger effect than most…that restless feeling in your arms and legs, especially when you’re lying in bed trying to get comfortable. Suddenly all of your limbs are numb/in the way/aching/just generally a pain! The other thing is the extra stretching of the skin in the last few weeks as baby grows at a faster rate meaning an increase in that horrible itching feeling that no amount of showering and moisturising can seem to ease! 

At first I had a few nights of no sleep, then in my own traditional way of dealing with sleep, tried to push on to power through the day thinking that would then enable me to be so exhausted that night I’d easily sleep. Sadly, that’s not a tactic that works anymore. The result was just me being useless at functioning, irritated and generally not a joy to be around before not being able to sleep at night anyway! Having spoken to some Mum friends when I said I tried not to nap I was met with looks that told me they thought I was mad. “If you can sleep at any point, YOU SLEEP!! AT ANY POINT!!” The other piece of advice I got was to not stress out when trying to sleep, if it wasn’t coming and I was getting uptight, the only person I was harming was myself. I needed to chill out! The other person it had inevitable consequences for was my poor husband who had to lie next to me, with the light constantly going on and off, the constant huffing, puffing, crying, sighing, random trips to the bathroom just to get up and stop going insane, the middle of the night showers, you name it I tried it and it meant he was getting no sleep either! The consequence of that was of course that he was so tired then during the day, it was more of a struggle to support me, not to mention he has work to get through, it was just an incredibly difficult few days.

SO, after taking advice from friends who’d been through similar, we decided that my husband would sleep in the spare room so that at least he got a good nights sleep and was then able to support me in the days and function better himself when working. Sounded like a great plan although we didn’t relish the idea of not sleeping in the same room. Anything was worth a try though and I was under strict instructions to try to relax and just let the night happen and then let sleep happen whenever!

The first night we tried it, I got a couple of hours sporadic napping and when I found it hard being awake I text my husband in the other room. Of course, this meant that every so often his phone buzzed so although he slept better, he did keep getting woken up by a buzzing phone! Last night was the second night and I suggested that when I was a bit stressed out, I’d write down how I was feeling and email it through to him to avoid the phone buzzing but still being able to share it. Of course when not restricted by a text, the length of ramblings got slightly out of hand but I have to admit, it definitely helped. I had a few 20/30 min dozes in between being wide awake and then managed to get a couple of hours in late morning but the main difference is feeling less stressed out about it. And today, my husband has gone to work feeling refreshed. It’s hard not sharing a bed but it’s definitely worth it for the increase in time spent together the rest of the time! 

So although it’s probably a bit of a frightening insight to the internal workings of my mind…please find below last nights diary style log book! The ‘you’ I’m referring to is of course my husband and the quoted times are the times as according to my phone when I saved each one…I make no apologies and take no responsibility for what goes on in that brain of mine in the witching hours!  

 

“01:20 – watching the first Britains Got Talent semi final, my favourite three were the top 3 (Britain better at voting for variety shows than politics clearly…!) and a magician and male singing group are the first two acts are through to the final. I think you’ll like the magician, I couldn’t tell how he did it which of course meant I hated him as much as liked him..!

02:30 – my nails aren’t all that long but I can’t seem to move my hands without scratching myself, all of a sudden they just seem to be in the way! In other news, your daughter has her head firmly sticking into my ribs and knees or something digging into my right side. She seems comfortable enough to stay like that so I’m adjusting my breathing accordingly (shallow!) and a hand on her to tell her that Mummy’s here and that there’s really no need to push any further, it’s especially important to me that she knows she shouldn’t try to come out that way in an Alien style move…! Missing a sleep catch up day today may have infected my brain…

03:00 – watching Greys Anatomy, Burkes back! Which will mean nothing to you, but is quite exciting. Although I’m sure he left last time because he was fired for being homophobic so maybe I’m not ok with it…maybe I should write a letter to someone. I probably won’t.

In other news, our baby girl hasn’t let up, maybe she’s a fan of Greys! Or maybe she knows that Mummy misses having Daddy next to her for cuddles so she’s trying to cuddle up on your behalf and doesn’t know her own strength!

Dr Shepherds sister on Greys is a famous surgeon, and called Amelia. Made me smile, I think we’re getting to know her personality more though and our current ideas for name suit that better.

I miss you.

03:40 – they made waffles on Greys. I really want waffles, with some bacon and maybe even syrup on the side…reminds me of breakfast at IHOP in Vegas, which makes me really want USA style hash browns. I know you agreed to go to McDonalds for a middle of the night craving but I suppose an international flight is pushing it…?! So to take my mind off the lack of breakfast goods, I instead daydreamed (nightdreamed?!) about our trip across Route 66. I feel like we should all have visors for the trip, and matching printed T-shirts are a bit tacky maybe, matching printed socks maybe? Still too much?!

I’ve taken an extra multivitamin and put moisturiser on to help with the itchiness. Hasn’t really helped but it’s something to do. Think I’m going to take ‘shower’ off the to do list as the 4.30am shower yesterday just seemed to make things worse, still, at least I’m squeaky clean!

04:00 – think I’m nervous about tomorrow’s hospital appointment. It’s much nicer being poked and prodded from the inside than from the outside! I’m not worried about going back on epilepsy medication, if that’s the decision, that’s the decision. I don’t really know what I’m worried about but I guess it’s on my mind. Logically I know it’s fine, but it’s 4am, I haven’t slept nearly at all in three days and my entire body is restless and my brain hurts.

In other news, I really would like a chocolate pop tart, why can’t I stop thinking about food?! In fact, I’m nauseous, my body is ridiculous!

04:30 – fishcake, a fish shop fishcake, that’s what I really want.

I stopped looking at any kind of technology and lay in the dark trying to relax for half an hour. The itching got worse, the restless arm and leg situation got significantly worse. I had a little cry, and now Greys is back on. Sally’s right, babies do their developing at night and it’s significantly harder to sleep when all that’s going on – sometimes it’s better to give in so I don’t a) scratch myself to bits b) drive myself insane.

It’s comforting knowing that you’re getting a good night sleep, I know that when I’m dropping the ball on sanity in the daytime, you’ll be more able to pick up the slack and then if by any chance you need anything done in the middle of the night, I’m your girl!

God I love you.

04:50 – you know when it feels like your arms are just sort of…in the way? Well…that.

05:05 – do you think if unicorns were real, people would ride them like regular horses?

06:00 – our baby girl can be anyone she wants to be. That’s so exciting, and I know how important it is to both of us that we give her every opportunity we can to let her be everything and anyone she wants to be and I cannot wait to see what she chooses to do. What she chooses to try, what she drops along the way. The decisions she makes that makes us burst with pride, the decisions she makes that make us despair, and the decisions she makes that we have to tell her off for but secretly wish we were quite as ballsy as she is!

I can hear you gently snoring away in the other room, the lack of sleep is starting to really hurt. I really need to drop off soon, just for a bit, just for a while.

Sleep deprivation will be a constant companion now I’m a Mum and that’s totally fine but at least when I’m not pregnant, when the baby sleeps, I’ll be able to get some sleep even if it is just a couple of hours at a time.

HA! Getting used to functioning on no sleep will be our life now because we’re parents. WE’RE PARENTS!! We’re in this as a team! You, me and little bean. I’m so excited! I’m so happy to be doing this ridiculous adventure with you! It’s going to be the hardest thing either of us ever do and it’s going to be amazing!

06:15 – God my hips are killing me. Looking forward to my massage tomorrow – you’re the best!

Feel hot and clammy and bleurgh, have to admit, I put cold water on a sponge again and chewed on the sponge…! Look up the forums yourself though, it’s REALLY common and totally safe!

It’s strange how ‘bleurgh’ is the generally accepted for that noise isn’t it, admit it, you knew exactly the noise I meant when you read it!

Had some extra ideas for the song we’re going to record together for baby, it should definitely be upbeat, maybe it should be her favourite song, it is also from our wedding after all so even though the words are inappropriate really, it’s also kind of apt..?!

06:30 – looks like it’s going to be quite a nice morning, my weather app says that it should be raining right now…weather app, you sit on a throne of lies!

Some sharp pains in my tummy a minute ago, who knows why, but I can tell they’re not anything to worry about, weird how you start to instinctively know these things.

Tempted to creep into the spare room just to cuddle up behind you for a bit but the whole point is for you to get some thorough sleep so I won’t. I’m hoping that I’ll be at least half asleep when you wake up but maybe you could come in and give me a little cuddle regardless, even if I’m asleep, I’ll know it happened somewhere in this brain.

It’s just started to rain, come on now Mother Nature, be prompt or just don’t bother. Still only lightly though and weather app suggests more extreme so I still feel let down…”

 

I’m hoping that I do start to get a bit more sleep over the next few nights because it has still been a difficult week but at least with a plan in place, we can both feel a bit more in charge of the situation…something that probably won’t be said in a few weeks time when baby arrives and we realise we won’t be in charge of anything much at all for quite some time! Pregnancy’s difficult, and it’s often not the things you think will be the worst that bring the biggest challenges. But it all prepares you for what’s the come and if pregnancy were easy, then the part that follows would be one hell of a shock! 

So if anyone is similarly struggling with sleep and getting through each day, why not try and write your own sleepless night diary even if you don’t plan to send it anyone. The roads your brain goes down with little to no sleep are quite the find and who knows, your sleepless night may lead to the next bestseller…now to start my masterpiece, “the highs and lows of the weather app accuracy…”