Monday, 25 March 2013

Water Baby - EB 4 Months

Our eyes meet.  Lock together.  Yours dance, twinkle. You smile the widest smile and then you turn your head, look away.  Bashful. Coy. As if saying; ’ Me? You’re interested in Me? Surely not.’

Yes. You.

Mr Flirty Pants. 

You’re going to be such a charmer.  I just know it.

I sit you in your bouncy chair whilst I try to get my jobs done. You’re such a distraction. I can’t help but lean forward and look into those sea green eyes and talk to you.  You’re always so very delighted when we have a conversation, you love to talk back in high pitched squeaks, or blow bubbles. You have a lot to say; babble fills an otherwise silent room. You’re quite the little chatterbox. It’s wonderful to share my day with you.

There’s something about you. Something special in the way you are. All mothers say this, I’m sure. But I really think so.  I love the way, when you’re about cry, if I smile, or talk to you, you’ll start to smile and then to laugh instead, as though you can’t help it; the goodness of your soul shines out.  You’re so good natured. I know you’re going to grow into someone wonderful. The certainty of it makes me happy.

Snuggling up and feeding you is one of my favourite things.  It’s a mother’s privilege to feel her infant suckle at her breast. I love the closeness of you.  I love examining each and every tiny hair on your head and the way your eyelashes curl. I love the way you hold my finger tightly with your free hand. But nothing compares to the moments when you smile at me, mid feed, the cheekiest grin emerging through a mouth full of breast. It gets me every time, a 100% guaranteed smile maker.

Last week I took you swimming. A time for us to be together.  Time especially for you. Our first pool experience since your water birth; I wondered what it would be like.  With just my hand behind your head you floated, almost weightless.  Reflections of each other, we looked into each others eyes. Yours smiled. Mine smiled back. Time stood still.

It were as though the mysteries of the universe had been solved, that in that moment, I glimpsed the meaning of life. It was very simple.


Soundtracked by the echoes of the poolside world around me, I felt myself brimming with love. A surging, circulating warmth, a feeling so strong I felt I could barely could contain it. That love might overspill, come floating out of me, and find it’s way into the warm water.

It was you that made me feel this way.


Love. Enduring. Everlasting. For you, my water baby.

Linking up with Magic Moments at The Oliver's Madhouse

Friday, 15 March 2013

A Night Out - Post Baby

I can count the evenings I’ve had out since I had EB on one hand. Actually, one finger.  One.  One evening.  It’s all rock and roll this mothering business.  I’m not complaining. Really, I’m not.  When you’ve been up half the night with a small baby and spent the day looking after baby and his older brother; making meals, packed lunches, ferrying to pre- school and back, completing a double dose of bath time and bedtime routine, the last thing you feel like doing is hitting the proverbial tiles at 8pm.

Last week however, was an exception.  A friend was planning a ‘one night only’ visit to London and had requested my presence for food, drinks and merriment.  I’d looked forward to it all week. A night out. A night with the girls; gossiping, laughing, catching up. I was ready for some fun.

By 6pm on the evening of my appointed night out, I was exhausted.  Husband (aka the babysitter) texted to say he would be late.  The baby was tearful and cranky. I couldn’t work out why. Pip wanted his milk, but I couldn’t find the special ‘milky cup’. One tearful disaster spilled into another as we approached bedtime.  Why tonight? Why tonight? I silently bemoaned to myself.

I focused on getting the baby bathed and fed, knowing that Husband could manage Pip’s bath when he got home.  Husband arrived flustered, and assumed his role of taking charge of all things Pip. Fussing a little more than usual, EB went to bed, and checking my watch (again), I had just enough time to express some milk, get ready and go. I was running a little late, but figured I could make up the time.

With Dumbo blaring from the TV, pump at the ready, I set about milking my galactagogos to ensure Husband was armed with the necessary ammunition should he need it mid evening.  From this point on it all went downhill.  Husband starting calling something out, loudly, from upstairs. "I can’t hear you", I shouted back, pump going at full blast. Dumbo and friends continued to dance in the background.  Another inaudible bellow from upstairs. "Still CAN'T HEAR YOU" I shouted back. (Helpful, I know). Silently I prayed; 'Please come down, don’t make me turn this pump off now. I’ve just got the let down right and the milk is flowing nicely'.  Failure to find the TV remote further exacerbated the situation, so Dumbo continued singing merrily, which meant the third time Husband's voice echoed down the staircase I still couldn't make out what he was saying.  He clearly wasn't going to come to me. *Sigh*  Detaching the pump I made my way upstairs.  Time was ticking on.

‘He’s awake.’ Husband said pointedly.  I could see that. He was holding the baby.

Baby did not want to go back to sleep. Perhaps he sensed Mummy wanted to go out, to venture beyond the front door. Without him.  It took thirty minutes to cajole him into the land of nod. By which time I was even later and standing in a breastfeeding vest wanting to weep,  aware that, by now, everyone else was probably supping aperatifs in the restaurant.

Determined to not give up on the evening before it had started, I took myself back to the business of pumping, but, whether it was the stress of being late, or the mind numbing gaiety of Dumbo enforced by the loss of the TV remote, only a few sorry drops now joined the inch or so of milk in the bottom of the bottle.  More stress. 'What should I do? Not go? It’ll be fine I told myself, he’s had a feed, he should sleep until I get home. This is just insurance, there’s enough to tide him over if he wakes.' But even then, reasoning with myself, reassuring myself, I felt that perhaps I was being selfish, that I was wrong to go. I went through the motions anyway.

Make Up. I need make up. Where’s my foundation? I realised I hadn’t worn any for the best part of three months. Applying it to my ghostly pallor was a reminder that actually, make up can make you feel loads better about yourself.  That I do look better with it on.

Clothes. What shall I wear? It had been my intention to get a little dressed up, to make an effort. But alas, lack of foresight (and looking after two children all day) meant that selecting an outfit now would mean entering my bedroom, turning the light on, rooting through the wardrobe, and potentially waking the baby. So instead I raided the ironing pile in the spare room.  Note to self; select clothes in daytime and leave out for later.

Scarf. My favourite scarf. Oh no. On the chaise longue in the bedroom. Apart from the issue of waking the sleeping baby,  I now had my boots on.  I didn’t want to risk muddying the cream carpets if they were dirty and I didn’t have time to take them off and put them on again. No scarf then.

Hair. Washed that morning; thank goodness I’d made an effort to have a shower before Husband left for work. No mirror downstairs, so I simply released it from it’s pony tail and styled it via the reflection from the hall window. Look good? I couldn’t tell. By then I didn’t care.

30 minutes late, off I went. With a slightly chilly neck and a weighty heart.

A stone’s throw from the restaurant I received a text from Husband;

‘We need more full fat milk’

Being a mother, I already knew this, but unwilling to accentuate my lack of style any further, I had drawn the line at arriving on my night out with a Tesco carrier bag containing a pint of full fat for Pip.

It was a lovely evening. It was good to see old friends and catch up. They all looked so sparkly and glamorous. But I felt my apron strings tugging at me, that I couldn’t relax and let loose.  I worried as I covered my wine glass to stop it being refilled; 'I haven’t pumped enough milk, I’m sure of it. EB will be hungry if he wakes.’

I bade my friends an early goodbye and headed off to get Pip’s milk.  I wondered if I would ever relax on a night out again.

The trials of the evening were not over. Tesco Express had just closed. Checking my watch and seeing it was 11pm on the dot, I pleaded with the shop manager to let me in. "Just for a pint of milk, that’s all, I promise."  The thought of Pip waking at 5am and refusing to go back to bed without his warm drink was too much to bear.  Perhaps because I seemed so sober he took pity on me and let me in. As I queued to pay behind the last pair of shoppers, I noted that they were buying vodka and whiskey and planning a long night ahead. I was buying milk and looking at a long night ahead too, albeit with less of a party atmosphere.

I took advantage of the rare time to myself to enjoy the walk home. It was peaceful. The night air was cool enough to be refreshing but not enough to make me feel cold. I savoured the novelty of being alone, of not pushing a shopping laden pram or chasing after a run away scooter. 

A panicky text from Husband cut through the silence. 

‘He is awake. Has had all the milk from bottle.  Chomping for more. Where are you?'

‘About 10 doors away’.

Almost exactly three hours after I’d left, I was home.  I’d barely closed the door and Husband was down the stairs, plonking EB in my arms.  Two minutes later he was feeding, and I was filling Pip’s ‘milky cup’ for the morning with finest blue top. 

Everyone could relax. The milk maid was home.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Victoria Sponge Forever

On my first Mother’s Day, Husband made me a cake. My favourite cake; Victoria sponge. Pip was nine months old and we spent the weekend in a cottage in a small hamlet near Lake Ullswater. I remember the smell of early morning baking, of being told I couldn’t enter the kitchen.  In the afternoon, we had tea (from the pot, as it was a special occasion) and cake.  Pip, my bouncing baby boy, sat on my lap with beaming smiles. This was the view from the veranda. I felt so very happy and content.  

A year on, and we had just moved house. The oven at Faulty Towers didn’t let my Husband down.  He and a now twenty one month year old Pip rose early and baked again.  The result, a triumphant Victoria sponge. It was a warm day for March. That afternoon we ate huge slices of cake in the summer house at the end of the garden, basking in the positivity and promise of spring. I love the photographs we have of Pip munching on his slice of cake. He was so pleased to have his own piece; just like Mummy.

The following year we found ourselves somewhere different yet again. A yurt in the Canary Islands.  I’d resigned myself to the fact that it was highly unlikely I would be the recipient of a cake that year.  Yet, as I woke from my lie in, staring at the deep red pleats of the fabric roof above me, the nostalgic smell of previous Mother’s Days greeted me, sweet and sugary, and I knew they were baking.  Fortuitously, my boys had found a heart shaped silicone tray stuffed in a drawer under the small oven, and after collecting fresh eggs laid by the chickens at the Finca, they’d set to work in the outdoor courtyard kitchen. I had my Victoria sponge again. A hat trick, three years in a row. A new tradition had been born.

Yesterday by 8am, a sponge cake had been baked to Mary Berry’s recipe. (We’re going through a Mary Berry phase in our house right now.)  In the afternoon, like every other Mother’s Day, we had tea and cake (this year minus the teapot, which is still wrapped in bubble wrap somewhere). The cake was delicious, sharp tangy raspberry jam and whipped double cream inside, a small decoration on top. They’d even glazed the fruit.  I reckon my boys would stand a good chance in any bake off.

"Do you like it Mummy?" "Is it delicious?" "Is it the best cake you’ve ever had?" asked Pip.
"It certainly is, my darling".

And I meant it.  It was the best cake I’ve had - equal to the one last year, and the year before, and the year before.  They’re the four best cakes I’ve ever had.

It’s such a simple thing, but it means so much. I love the tradition that Pip and his father have established between them of making me my favourite cake on Mother’s Day. I’m not a materialistic person, I don’t care for fancy presents, just a card and a cake, and the opportunity to sit and share it together.  Yesterday I wondered how many more Mother’s Days I’ll receive a homemade cake.  I hope it’s many, many more.  Victoria sponge forever, that’s all I want.

I'm linking this post up to the #magicmoments linky over at The Oliver's Madhouse.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Appreciating Motherhood

Today I am guest posting at one of my favourite blogs, Lynsey the Motherduck. This week Lynsey has published a series of super posts on the theme of ‘Appreciating Motherhood’.  I would love it if you would pop over and read my post; 'Stitches in Time'.

Wishing you all a happy, restful and relaxing Mother’s Day.


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

One Week

The spectre of it loomed before me; the prospect of just one week had never seemed so daunting.  Half Term.  Just hearing the words made me feel anxious.  I couldn’t imagine coping with both Pip and a twelve week old for a whole week on my own. Why hadn't someone warned me that once they start pre-school they have holidays?

Since EB’s arrival, things have been a little tumultuous with Pip. After three and a half years of being an only child, sharing Mummy and Daddy’s attention with a little brother has taken some time for him to adjust to. The first few months of EB’s life seem to have coincided with a testosterone surge for my oldest son. Energy levels are constantly on high, gentle movements are few and far between; lunging, running, jumping, throwing are his favoured modes of physicality and woe betide those that may stand in his way.  There have been times at the end of a long day when I’ve breathed a silent sigh of relief that EB still has his head attached to his body, that he is such a sweet, tolerant little chap, who really doesn’t seem to mind constantly doing a nodding dog impression courtesy of his older brother.

At times, I’ve found mothering the two of them over this past few months very tough.  I’ve mourned for, and no doubt romanticised, the days Pip and I shared pre EB, when everything seemed so easy, when we rolled through each week happily with barely a cross word.  I’ve chastised myself for getting cross with him, when on some days, I’ve snapped after saying ‘BE GENTLE’ for the millionth time.  I’ve felt guilty because I haven’t had the time to sit down with him as often as I would have liked to give him my undivided attention, to focus on learning his letters, or to help him draw a face, which as far as I can tell, lots of his friends are now able to do, but despite my best attempts he has shown no interest in. I have felt that the sea that Pip and I navigated so calmly only three months ago, has become a surging swelling tide, buffeting us both, and I've been unsure of how to navigate through these uncharted waters.

Subconsciously aware I needed a metaphorical life buoy, in a heart to heart with my mother recently I quipped; ‘ I need to buy a parenting book’.  A week later, she turned up with one; tried and tested by her in the course of her work advising parents for thirty years. Of course, the irony is, if you’re struggling as a parent you probably don’t have time to sit down and calmly read a parenting book from cover to cover. As in my case, whereby I stuffed it down the arm of the sofa for a speed read at a later date.

Half term continued to loom large.  I decided the only way to deal with it was tackle it head on, to plan each day meticulously. We managed two very pleasant days in London; playing in the park, sipping babycinos at the coffee shop armed with Pip’s favourite books, baking chocolate and cranberry muffins and having a couple of play dates.  We even managed to wait in for six hours for the Virgin media man without anyone crying or banging their head against the wall.  Then, on the Wednesday I weakened, sent out an SOS call and decamped to my mother’s house for the rest of the week.

Taking oneself out of the day to day can give you a sense of clarity and perspective that you might not otherwise find in the humdrum of normal everyday life.  The cold weather meant that there was little more to do at my parent’s place than if we were in the capital. Twenty minutes shivering on a north Essex beach at one degree temperatures meant the rest of the week was confined to soft play venues or the warmth of my parents home. I wondered if we might get cabin fever.  Yet, it was spending time with my parents, and watching them with Pip that really opened my eyes. It was a parenting lesson in itself.

The huts were the most cheerful thing on this beach

I watched how my mother was able to engage Pip in the most simple of household tasks. Emptying the cutlery drawer from the dishwasher; sorting knifes, forks and spoons into the appropriate slots in her canteen case. Making bread each night for breakfast the next morning, assisting with the recycling. I watched as he helped Grandpa clean his greenhouse and then build a bonfire from the garden waste, and how he revelled in helping with the tasks he’d been given, enjoying the sense of purpose. As I watched, I wondered if I needed to re-evaluate how I approach things at home.

Housework is a task I try to complete when Pip is at pre-school or when he is in bed. It is rare that I try to engage him in day to day tasks around the home, preferring instead to plan trips out, activities and play dates.  But, now we have EB, this is more difficult, we do need to spend more time at home, and after watching his joy at helping with the most mundane of tasks, I decided a change of tack was needed.

When we returned home from my parents, Pip took charge of his new role in helping with the washing.  He’d clearly learnt something the week before as he held a rogue red sock up whilst sorting the white wash. ‘ Mummy, if you put this in, your washing will go pink’.  I was impressed.  I appointed him chief sock sorter, in charge of sorting his and his father’s vast collection of stripy socks into pairs, and we discovered that a game of ‘sock snap’ can be great fun.

In the course of just one week, I started to feel that we recovered some of our old bond, which at times since EB’s birth, I felt had got lost in the ether.  Getting away from it all had allowed me some respite and reflection, and I returned with a renewed parenting perspective.  At the start of the following week,  sat at the kitchen table, Pip drew his first ever picture of a person; Mummy. With a proper face; eyes, nose, a mouth, red hair, and a big tummy (because she’d just had a baby). No sign of fiery volcanoes or spooky forests; the usual suspects emerging from his pencil, instead, recognisable and real; Mummy.  My heart ached with love for him as he proudly talked through his picture. We had found our groove again. What a difference one week makes.

It was my intention to link this post up last week to Older Mum in a Muddle’s wonderful series ‘One Week’.  Alas, life conspired against me and I ran out of time.  I did thoroughly enjoy reading the other posts though. You can check them out by clicking the badge below.

one week