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the sleep thief's mother

surviving life with a new baby

A new mums review of the first year

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On December 4th 2014, I gave birth to my first baby, my beautiful, healthy, bouncing baby boy. As most new mums can understand I was dazed and confused, sore and uncomfortable, completely emerged in hormones and emotions and so have very little memory of that first precious christmas. Consequently this Christmas has really felt like our first as a family. He’s seen his first christmas tree, met his first santa, opened his first presents and we’ve begun our first traditions as a family of our own. It’s really made me nostalgic for his first year, so much has happened. He’s now unrecognisable from the skinny little, puffy eyed newborn baby we had last Christmas. So this is Seth’s (and my) first year in review.

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December to February 0 – 3 Months

In the first few months I was permanently in a state of feeling freaked out and scared shitless I was going to break him somehow. I left the house very rarely, showered even less often and cried more than is possible without severe dehydration setting in. The house was a mess, I was a mess. Seth fed every few hours sometimes every half an hour, day and night. Everyone was exhausted. I honestly thought people who had more than one child must have a mental Illness and, I truly think that if he hadn’t of smiled early at 5 weeks old and shown me just that little bit of interaction, I would have cracked. Seth learned how to open his eyes and smile and that’s about it. Slow start for him.

March to May 4 – 6 months

So, in March we started to venture outside. We enrolled in a baby play group and a baby music class, baby swimming classes, met other local mums and babies, started to get into a comfortable routine and the feeling of fear in the pit of my stomach gave way to pride and love for my little baby. During this time Seth started sleeping through the night for 12 hours straight, cut his first teeth, learned to laugh out loud and squeal and by the time we got to May could even sit up unaided, roll in both directions and had tried his first ever solid food.

June to August 7 – 9 months

Summer brought commando style crawling followed by full scale proper crawling for Seth, which meant baby proofing everything, mild panic and a feeling of not being ready for this at all! But it also meant that Seth could properly play and engage with you, he had long, regular naps, would eat anything you put in front of him, laughed at everything, slept all night, cut his first 4 teeth without even a whinge….. I mean I could go on! He was perfect, it was our hay days, the best summer of my life. I know I’m laying it on thick but I really did feel like I was kicking motherhoods ass, that’s why the next section was such a shock……

September to November 10 – 12 months

In September we went on our first family holiday down to Cornwall. Seth was at that adorable wobbly but walking round the sofa stage and we all enjoyed some much needed sunshine. Then this happened…

WALKING!! I cannot stress to anyone how unprepared for this I was! I was like “oh we’ve already baby proofed, he’ll be fine!” I was so wrong. My giant baby could reach everything! Walking round the furniture quickly gave way to full scale running, running into everything, like walls, doors, me!! The kid was and still is a menace on two legs, looking after him is exhausting. But to go with all this, Seth learned to clap his hands, started eating whole solid food like entire sandwiches, bananas, muffins!! He can climb, can say mum, dad, car, ta and nanny. He can tickle you, can point to what he wants, feed himself his own drinks and bottles, knows his own mind and can throw a tantrum that puts even my unreasonable streak to shame.

So basically, I blinked and he was big. That’s how I feel, it was all over in an instant, I can’t remember if I enjoyed it enough, was I too worried about whether I was doing a good job to enjoy it properly? Perhaps. But the bits I do remember, the wakeful nights full of cuddles in the small hours, his tiny fingers gripping mine, his first laugh, the inner pride I got when he achieved a milestone, all those memories will never leave me. I recall them clearly and I enjoyed them immeasurably.

So here’s to another year. Age 1 to 2, with all its new triumphs and challenges. He’s not a baby any more that’s for sure, but although I don’t want to wish it away I cannot wait to find out and watch what kind of little boy he becomes. Thank you 2015 for being the year I finally experienced what it’s like to be a mum, for my little boy is certainly my greatest achievement.

My birthday boy. How has it been a whole year?

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As the helium balloons silently sink to the ground the day after my baby’s first birthday party, I wonder where the last year went and how he got so big so quickly. Now fully walking, exceptionally noisy and as big as your average three year old my little baby is now my little boy. A whole, unique person who knows his own mind and isn’t afraid to let us know when he wants or rather doesn’t want, to do something. Some would say he’s “spirited” as a nice way of saying he’s a bloody handful, but we wouldn’t have him any other way! It really feels like just last week I was processing steamed veg for him and then yesterday I was giving him whole pieces of birthday cake, biscuits, sandwiches and quiche and he could eat it! Whole! Without help! When did I blink and miss him growing into a toddler? I really need to pause life and just catch my breath.

Seth’s birthday was a relatively low key affair. Just some close friends and family, some food, cups of tea, balloons, party bags and one huge amazing cake. I went for a woodland animal theme for his party which I think worked really well. He had a few of his little baby friends there, who we’d met when we went to local baby music classes. It’s lovely to see how all the babies are growing up, I’ve known them all now since they were about three months, although Seth stands head and shoulders above them all because my partner and I are both tall, it’s lovely to see them all developing different skills. Seth is the first to properly walk but he has no interest in speech or problem solving yet. Whereas some of his friends can figure out how to turn their toys on and off, press buttons to make lights or sounds come on, others can say their first few words like drink, ta, mum, dad, play, milk etc. Yet another reminder to us all as parents that we shouldn’t worry too much about comparing our kids to others. They all get there in the end.

For Seth’s actual birthday we decided to spend the day as a family and took Seth to meet Father Christmas for the very first time.

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It actually all went rather well! There was no queue, Santa was lovely, as were his elves and Seth actually sat still for a photo! Ok, he didn’t exactly smile and was seconds away from screaming, but all in all it was a parenting win for us! I love starting these new traditions with my little family as some of the traditions from my childhood are what I remember the most; trimming the tree with my mum, writing my list as soon as mum brought back the christmas Argos catalogue every year (although Mum, I’m still waiting for that Teddy Ruxpin!) and of course, visiting Santa. I’m starting a Christmas Eve box tradition for my family which will include an activity to do on Christmas eve, like making paper chain decorations or building a gingerbread house. I really want to install in my children a tradition of spending time with the family around Christmas. At the rate that this last year has gone by I really want to make the most of all the time I have with my family and show them that the things they remember are the things we did and the time we spent together, not the presents they received.

Over the last year I’ve watched my little baby be born, a tiny, wrinkly, pink thing so light and fragile in my arms. He’s learned to sit up, roll over, eat solid food, stand, climb, walk, clap, smile, laugh, dance and just generally melt my heart with every step of his journey. As a new mum I expected to be overwhelmed, I expected to be exhausted, but I never expected to be amazed and enchanted every single day by this little person who has become my world. If this is how much he can change in 1 short year then I’m so excited to see what next year brings for him and for us as a family.

But secretly I hope he’ll stay a baby for just a little bit longer.

 

Let’s all teach our kids some manners, shall we?

The weather’s been so unseasonably warm recently that not long ago the boyfriend and I decided to take a walk in the sun down to our nearest pub for a swift half. After getting a couple of bevvies at the bar we wandered outside, he went ahead to claim a table carrying our drinks and I followed after with the buggy and baby in tow. Now the beer garden is up 6 or so pretty steep steps and without Mark to help me I proceeded to take Seth in his buggy up the steep steps backwards. All mums (and some dads) will feel my pain on what an absolute pain in the arse this is. Anyway, that’s not my issue. My issue is that 13 (yes I counted them!) 13 able bodied people (apart from 1 old, big guy who was with 1 old, big dog and a pair of walking sticks so he is excused!) so 12 able bodied people all just sat there and watched me struggle, dragging baby strapped in a buggy, backwards up the steps, bumping all over the shop. At no point did even one of them offer to help. Why?? I have no idea.

The other day an old guy in a wheelchair cut in front of me in the queue at Morrisons. I cursed him under my breath in true British style, not wanting to actually engage in confrontation. But when that same old guy was trying to twist round in his chair to deposit his basket on the stack, I immediately offered to help and took it from him. Now, those in the know will confirm that I am no saint but helping those in need is human nature right? No, apparently not. Apparently it’s human nature not to practise any manners, to be selfish and self-promoting, to not see the struggles of others and to not feel compelled to do anything about it.

This is not the world I want to raise my child into. I want him to know old people deserve respect whether they earn it or not. To assume that what a policeman says is gospel without answering back. To help anyone he can where he sees the opportunity to. To know that doing something for someone else gives you a personal satisfaction that money can’t buy. I don’t want him to stand by and watch people struggle when most of the time just the offer of help is enough.

When I was pregnant I thought so much about preparing to have a baby, I kind of forgot that I was actually going to have a human who would learn how to be a decent human from me and my example. It’s one hell of a responsibility, but that’s part of parenting, perhaps the most important part.

So, parents, shall we all teach our kids not to be detached, disrespectful assholes? You teach your kids and I’ll teach mine and the world will be a better place. Simple.

The top 10 gross things your pre baby self would never do!

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Now if you’re anything like me, then before you had your little bundle you occasionally did your nails, mostly had clean hair and were usually hygienic. Before the baby, my boyfriend and I had a healthy agreement on personal space which included always toileting with the door closed, not needing to tell each other about any kind of bowel movement and never ever bottom burping in each others presence (that last one was just for him as obviously ladies don’t do that!) But, pregnancy can put pay to the most robust intimacy agreements and we soon found ourselves discussing all sorts of bodily functions. It seems to me that motherhood has only put me on a downward spiral of grossness since then. Although we still toilet with the bathroom door firmly closed, below are my top ten most disgusting things I now do as a mother that I would never have dreamed of doing before. I hope I’m not the only one who’s guilty of these sins (and trust me if you haven’t had your baby yet, then this will be you very shortly!)

  1. Running towards vomit

Babies are sick all the time, literally like every day (or maybe it just feels like that?) Your baby will sick up milk for a past time and don’t get me started on weaning and introducing finger food too, they will gag and retch and make all sorts of gross noises and faces while they’re doing so. As a human being you should step back from anyone who’s mid regurgitation, but you’re a mother now so instead you will run towards said human with your hands forming a deep cup, the perfect vomit receptacle, out in front of you ready to catch! And you will catch! Buckets of partly digested milk and food. And you wont care. You’ll just wash your hands and carry on. In fact one time, I just deposited the contents of my hands into an empty bowl on the coffee shop table, babywiped my fingers and moved on. No big deal, right?

2. Wearing Vomit

Sticking with the vomit theme, you wont always catch it. Sometimes the little darling will be over your shoulder being burped or cuddled into you about to have a snooze and then, there it is, the Vom-bomb. It’ll go all over you, your clothes, your hair and all you’ll need is a light brush with a baby wipe and you’re good to go again. Sure your left shoulder will smell slightly sour for the rest of the day, you may even pop to the shops or to see a friend later on and half way through think “I really smell! Oh yeah, it’s just vomit” Trust me, you won’t care.

3. Smelling another human’s bum

So, apparently dogs can tell everything they need to know about another dog by presenting their anus to them and letting them take a big whiff. Humans on the other hand, are not blessed with this joyous gift (thank god) Although, the majority of mum’s think nothing of launching baby into the air by their armpits to bring baby bum hole directly in line with mum’s nose and inhaling deeply to check for poop! It’s an entirely disgusting, but extremely effective shit detecting habit that once baby arrives you won’t be able to avoid. In fact my sister once told me that experienced mum’s can tell if the poopy smell, in a room full of babies, is their own offspring’s brand of stink or not. Clever mummies!

4. Discussing and dissecting human poo

Yep – continuing with my last point (we may as well get all the shit talk out of the way, right?) You will suddenly give a shit, about shit – but it won’t be your own. You’ll ask anyone who’s looked after baby if he’s pooed today, what time, what was it like, did he strain, were there bits in it, was it solid? So many questions. Recently my baby suffered constipation and while I was running his bedtime bath, daddy was getting him changed and called through to me “oh, he’s had a poo!” A normal human response to this would be to wonder why you need to know that piece of information. Not a mum. Not me. I ran full pelt to the bedroom, only then to peel apart his soiled nappy to inspect the little brown log like some sort of crazed Gillian McKeith type.

5. Sucking a dirty dropped dummy

We’ve all seen mum’s do it and when you’re pregnant you think “that’s vile, I will never pick up my child’s dummy from the street and just suck it!” But you will. Baby will drop his dummy onto the floor, the pavement, the road, anywhere! It’s your duty as a mother to prevent the banshee like wail that will commence if you don’t plug that little screamers mouth with a dummy again tout suite! But you will lose all your spare dummies and one day when you’re down to your last one and baby drops it, you will pick it up, suck it and give it back to baby. Then it’s a slippery slope, once you’ve done it once it’s no longer disgusting and you’ll do it all the time. You have been warned!

6. Sucking up snot

Unfortunately for you my readers, this does not mean with a hoover. Yep, what you’re imagining is true and I’m ashamed to say I have done it. I saw no other option. I was desperate. I wanted to sleep and he had a cold so he couldn’t sleep and if he doesn’t sleep then I don’t sleep and so….you see my problem. I put my mouth over his snotty baby nose and sucked. Yes, I spat it out, but let’s face it, that’s not exactly fool-proof and I definitely tasted it at the very least. Yuk!

7. Wiping up snot and picking noses with your bare hands

You’ll note a nose related theme going on here! Once baby gets big and strong enough to fight you off when you’re going in for the human hoover move, you still have to wipe those drippy nostrils somehow – tissues! I hear you cry. No, dear reader. If my baby sees any kind of wipe within 100 paces of him he initiates his now legendary freak out scream. It’s so much easier and quieter for all concerned if I sneak my fingers over his nose and just wipe the snot somewhere else – usually on me in all honesty. But remember, drippy baby noses crust up over night, what was liquid yesterday has now solidified and not only looks disgusting but hampers baby’s breathing so you have to pick it. It’s disgusting, you wouldn’t pick your own nose, or anyone else’s for that matter and I do hope that I don’t feel compelled to do it when my baby is 15, but for now, needs must. Mum’s, get in there and pick away. Knock yourselves out

8. Kissing baby on the mouth

Sounds perfectly normal right? A genuine and totally acceptable expression of the love and bond between a mother and child. Wrong! It’s not the act of kissing my baby which is gross, it’s the fact that he has no idea yet that he needs to keep his mouth closed, so every time he wants to kiss me I basically end up with a face, or worse, a mouth, full of baby dribble. It’s cold and wet and so wrong, but also very cute, so I keep doing it. Eww.

9. Sharing food

Most mum’s spend the majority of their days cramming enough meals, healthy snacks and milk feeds into babies routine all around constructive, developmental play, adequate nap times and numerous dirty nappies. This conveyor belt of baby needs means most mums don’t make time to eat, at least not properly. So when you sneak a biscuit and baby spies it, you share. When baby is having lunch and he’s not too fussed on something, you finish it off. Fine, you say. No problem. But, all food that goes anywhere near baby will be mashed and pulped in sticky fingers, dribbled on, chewed, wiped over a snotty face, I could go on. You’ll still eat it, because you’re hungry and busy and tired and you’ve given up on your pride. I mean, you made him, aren’t they all technically your germs anyway??

10. Talk about birth

Now, this isn’t strictly the baby’s fault, but you can’t compare birth “war” stories unless you’ve had a baby. From stitches to tears, mucus plugs to discharge, women who have been through the beautiful (although disgusting) miracle of birth feel the need to go in depth about every little detail. I think it’s unnecessary, but yes, I still do it! It’s like a badge of honour that bonds you to a whole new group of women. And, when you give birth, you’ll do it too. I guarantee it.

xx

My first week as a working mother

What a difference a week makes. My carefree maternity existence is well and truly over. Now juggling three jobs and a baby who I miss terribly in full time nursery with household chores, a neurotic dog, a partner I barely see and ten hours of commuting a week makes me long for trips to the park and coffee morning play dates. I’ve only been back at work a week and I can honestly say that if nursery wasn’t so expensive I’d be popping out another baby already, just to get another year off (and secretly because I’d love to do it all again!)

This week has highlighted to me how modern life’s perception that women can have it all and do it all, is entirely counter productive because of the pressure it loads onto women to do just that. I genuinely thought that after I had my baby I’d want to return to work but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Every shred of me wants to be with him all the time, literally every second I can. But, it’s almost assumed now that women who work or have forged a career for themselves will return to work, usually full time as if nothing has happened (bloody equal rights!) Of course, financially most of us need to return to full time work and our hands are forced on the matter. But the amount of people who, even when Seth was only a few months old, would say to me “when are you back at work?” was astounding. I never realised how much having a baby would change me, but it did, it’s just a shame that it couldn’t change my lifestyle.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are probably millions of women who couldn’t wait to return to work for lots of valid reasons: personal identity, adult conversation, finances, boredom, loneliness – I could go on and on. Feeling any or all of these and choosing to go back to work does not make you any more or less of a mother than those who choose to stay at home. In fact, although women who choose to stay home face all the above problems, women who choose to work face them and all new ones too (guilt being the worst! They don’t tell you about the perpetual guilt in ante-natal classes do they!!) I keep telling myself that I’m hopefully raising somebody’s husband and somebody’s father and that I want that eventual Man to respect a woman’s right to choose her own path without prejudice or assumption.

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If going back to work has taught me one thing it’s that the little time I have with him has to count. The second I’m through the door, I’m on the floor reading and singing and playing with him. The relationship with my partner has changed into a well oiled house keeping, child rearing machine, pre planning meals, money and events to the minute (How long we can maintain this military state remains to be seen!) Everything has changed and will continue to change. But the continuous constant in our lives is our love for our little boy and our need to do what’s best for him. It’s a personal choice for our family and it should be a choice every family and every woman can make without assumption or pressure.  All I can say is that I’m sorry for all those times I took being off work for granted, complained to people that I was bored at home, got stressed with the baby playing up and assumed that those endless hours of fun would go on and on. Now I find myself flying up and down the motorway desperately trying to claw back a few short hours a day. But it’s worth it. It’s made me appreciate the smile on his face when I walk through the door. It’s made us plan events to experience things with him and make memories, like our trip to the fireworks yesterday, the first he’s ever seen. And I may not be there every morning or afternoon, but I’m always there when he wakes up, I’m always there when he goes to bed. And when he’s grown and towers over me, I hope he understands why we did things the way we did and that we may have been short on time, but we were never short on love.

The top 10 most useful things to buy for your baby

For the first time ever I am writing this post from a request. After reading my post “The top ten most useless products to buy for your baby” a friend of mine said she finds it hard to come up with new gift ideas for expectant mummy friends and as such would love to have a top ten of useful products to choose from. Now, those who know me will be aware that you don’t have to ask me twice to give my opinion on things, so here we are (some of my choices are a bit pricey though, so perhaps might be an idea for friends to get together to buy them, unless you’re feeling generous! 😃)

  1. Baby Grooming Kit

Something I never would have thought of if my mother hadn’t of given one to me as a gift! Briefly consists of a baby hair brush and comb, nail scissors and nail clippers. Babies nails grow like wildfire and are so small you do need proper baby clippers to get them done safely (even the baby ones aren’t foolproof, I did cut Seth just a little the first time I cut his nails!)

2. Baby sleep sound machine

Now, up to you which one you buy. There’s one called Ewan the Sheep ( I think? Don’t quote me!) Fisher Price do a seahorse, basically there’s a menagerie of animals available! My critter of choice is called a Tranquil Turtle. It projects a wave like light show onto the ceiling, plays white noise wave music or a soothing lullaby and shuts off after 30 minutes – this was a life saver when Seth was tiny and I still use it to zone him into nap times now he’s nearly one.

3. Bouncy Chair

Awww, babies are so cute and small and light, they only weigh a few pounds! Unless of course you have to sit and hold one all day long, for days on end, then your baby will instantly morph into a lead weight causing your arm muscles to burn and all your joints to seize up. My bouncy chair saved me from this and made cuddle time so much less painful. You don’t need to get an all singing, rocking, vibrating version, just a simple chair with a few toys on will work wonders for your sanity and restore the joy that is peeing on your own to your life.

4. Nappy Bin and cartridges

Now unless you want your probably beautiful, newly decorated nursery to constantly smell like baby shit then you need a nappy bin. There’s loads available, we have a tommee tippee sangenic and it works brilliantly to cut the odour of nappy time wafting about the house. If you do buy one of these for someone get them some cartridges as well, refils can be expensive and when it runs out and you don’t have a spare it’s more than a bit annoying.

5. Baby sleeping bags

In what feels like a blink of an eye baby will no longer lay completely still while they sleep and all those lovely swaddling blankets are useless as baby pulls their arms out and wriggles free. When Seth started this I was so worried he was going to wriggle down and suffocate, but being a first time mum I didn’t even know baby sleeping bags existed! But they do! And they’re awesome. Baby’s temperature is regulated and he can’t wriggle down and cover his face in loose blankets. Stress free sleeping for the whole house.

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6. Basic medicines and thermometer

If like me, you spend your entire pregnancy thinking about how cute your baby is going to be, you probably didn’t stop to think that they will get ill. But they will get ill, coughs, colds, sneezes, vomiting, diarrhoea, the list goes on and on and on and the last thing you want is to drag a sick baby out to the pharmacy so being able to lay your hands on calpol, olbas oil for children, infant ibuprofen, saline nasal drops, teething powder or gel, cough syrup and a good thermometer will be a god send.

7. Activity Playmat

Within a few short weeks baby’s eyes are focused and ready to be stimulated, so activity centre mat’s that you can lie baby on their back with lights, sounds and mobile toys suspended above them are perfect. The best ones can have the arms which hold the toys removed so baby can use the play mat when they’re bigger too.

8. Jumparoo

I’ve heard this referred to a the “circle of neglect” and it’s easy to see why. Most babies adore being plonked in one of these and it’s easy to let them stay in there a little too long! Keep in mind that these come with a hefty £100 price tag and take up as much floor space as a small family car though, so perhaps borrow one or go for a second hand one so you can sell on or return it when you’re done.

9. Video baby monitor

Ok, so you know you’re going to need a monitor! In my humble opinion you don’t need a pressure mat, heart rate monitoring all singing and dancing version! A simple monitor will suffice. I do think a video monitor is very handy, although here’s a good tip… Don’t buy a Tomy. I’ve got a Tomy. It’s shit. Every time I see other people’s monitors I am filled with jealousy of their picture quality and I can’t help but think of my own monitor which, when in night vision mode, can only be described as a tiny, grainy black and white screen which looks like a Paranormal Activity sequel with really poor production values. Through months of practise I can now just about make out which blob on the screen is actually the baby!

10. First years journal

About 2 weeks ago I was bought a first years journal to document Seth’s first 5 years. When milestones happened I thought I would remember the date and how old he was so vividly, but as I sat to write in his book I realised I had forgotten so much already! These books are a great gift from a mother to a child, but all the best bits happen so fast you really need to have it from the start to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

Happy Shopping xx

First steps, first shoes

Over the past few short weeks Seth has turned 2 or 3 steps whilst falling into 4 or 5 steps while just a bit wobbly and now can confidently accomplish 6 or 7 steps independently, followed by falling. Because of this wondrous milestone his dad and I took it upon ourselves to go and buy his first pair of real shoes. Of course he hasn’t had little naked baby feet up until this point, but this would be his absolutely first real pair of shoes. Being such a momentous occasion for us all, I foolishly harboured a very whimsical and romantic idea about how the whole thing would play out. I guess because the moment was so special to us, I thought it would be a real perfect, family moment!

It was not.

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Naturally, wanting to keep up with the Jones’s and impress my mother, I headed to Clarks where I perused the well-lit shelves of dinky leather baby shoes with enthusiasm. The shop was busy and bustling, then someone called out “number 86?” Then someone else “number 87?” Now I quickly cottoned on that this was not some sort of footwear bingo and spotted the Asda style delicatessen number machine on the opposite wall (not what I had imagined at all) Taking a number, 91 by that point, I proceeded to wait and wait and wait while the baby got more and more agitated! Once we were finally served (by a very nice young lady I must add) we were told Seth’s feet were a 4H. Now, an H being a very unusual width fitting which basically means he has fat feet, bless him, and Clarks only carry that size in 1 shoe which wasn’t even in stock! Disappointing, but she does have 2 shoes in a 4G which should fit (remember the baby is getting more and more stressed as time goes on!) She tries for what feels like forever to get his feet in these shoes, he’s fighting her all the way, screaming and wriggling to get out of our arms. At this point I have to take over and manage to get his little puffy feet into the shoes and stand him on the floor for a little walk about.

So the shoes are fine, they’re the only ones which fit and are in stock so we don’t have a lot of choice anyway. Clarks take a picture of you with your little cherub in their new shoes which gets emailed and posted to you. So we pose in the shop for a photo. Seth is screaming, does not want to be held, his face is red, his nose is running, he refuses to look at the camera, everyone in the shop is looking at him and at us desperately trying to grin with pride for this photo while our baby wrestles himself to the ground to get away from us. Disaster!

Bless the sales assistant she must have retaken that photo 15 times, each one worse than the other. We went with the last photo out of sheer embarrassment even though it looks like a snap shot of two deranged people trying to kidnap a small possessed child.

Anyway, my disastrous shoe shopping aside, the fact that I am about to have a baby who can confidently walk is baffling to me. It seems days ago we came home from hospital, worked out how to get him to sleep, got nappy changes down to a 1 minute job and just started feeling comfortable with family life, working out a new normal for us all. It scares me how quickly he’s changing and now he’s on the cusp of walking it’s like he’s learning to not need me, to be independent from me and I’m not ready for that. I’ll be back to work next week, he’ll be in nursery, socialising and coming on leaps and bounds and I’m not ready to come home from work one day and see a toddler waiting for me. But I know that these first precious steps are just the start of my son’s amazing journey. For me the joy and adventure is watching him take his own path. After all, who knows where his little fat feet will take him.

Child safety – what an eye opener

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I’m currently in a state of shock. Something happened yesterday which left my laid back parenting style completely shaken. While relaxing away a Sunday morning with the family wandering around a local car boot I spotted a Dora The Explorer doll. Now, knowing how much my 10 and a half month old boy loves the ladies, particularly Dora (oh, and Barbie – don’t judge!) I bought the doll for the grand sum of 10p. Usually I take second hand toys home for a good scrub over with some Milton before I let the baby have them, but he’d spotted my purchase (the lady I bought it from looked clean!) and I couldn’t resist the little smile on his face so I gave him Dora and he beamed from ear to ear. The baby’s happy, job done.

So we wander on, Seth merrily giggling at Dora’s extraordinarily large eyes and myself and my companions chatting and pointing out other bargains to buy. Something must have taken our eye as we are all looking at one particular stall selling vintage furniture.

Imagine the scene. We’re all looking at one thing, my hand is on the buggy, but it’s facing away from where we’re looking, so baby is probably no longer than arms length away. We chatted for about 2 minutes, went to move away, looked at the baby…no Dora. Now, ordinarily I check the floor and fish to the bottom of his cosy toes and pull out whatever he’s dropped, but this time I carried out said search… still no Dora. I checked everywhere, like a crazy person, there was no sign of her. She’s a big enough doll and heavy enough that if he dropped her we would have heard it so we know she wasn’t dropped. Therefore, crazy as it sounds, someone took that Dora doll out of my child’s hands while I had my back turned.

Now the fact that it was a 10p Dora doll is neither here nor there. What made a lump come to my throat is that I had allowed someone to get that close to my baby without us even realising. I was literally horrified with myself. Admittedly it could have been a child which is much less sinister, but be that as it may, another person of whatever age was close enough to my baby to take something from him. The implications of this are huge. However unlikely they might seem. That same person could have taken something he really loved, could have given him something sharp or toxic or worse still, could have actually taken him!

Ok, so I know my imagination is running away with me (I descend from a long line of drama queens) and it’s a mothers duty to panic and worry and beat themselves up over mistakes and this was only a 10p Dora doll (an exact replica of which I found and bought to replace it so all is well!) But…it got me thinking. How many times have I stopped to talk to someone or look at something and felt like the baby was safe because my hand was on the pram? It made me realise I do it all the time and that I see everyone else doing it too. But, unless you can see your baby, you’re not watching your baby. It’s a lesson I’m so glad it only cost me 10p to learn and perhaps writing this will nudge others to think “hey I do that too!” and therefore prevent more Dora the Explorer dolls from going off and exploring!

I still want Seth to be a really social little boy, aware of danger but not scared of it, the kind of person who is happy to chat to all kinds of people, doesn’t judge others, has time for others and finds no fear in social interaction. But will I make sure that my eyes are opened a lot wider for dangers in the future and control who he interacts with more closely?

Damn right I will.

Because that’s what mums are for.

Pregnancy and infant loss

So today, October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss awareness day. It’s highly possible this day has been going for years and I’ve only just become aware of it, but this is the first year that I have noticed it, probably because now I have a baby of my own it hits home so much more.

When I was pregnant I was reliably informed that up to 50% of all pregnancies result in miscarriage, a figure I was totally shocked by. Although most of these happen so early on in pregnancy that the mother isn’t even aware, stillbirth is actually more common than cot death, affecting 1 in every 200 births in the UK. When you add the figures for stillbirth, cot death and SIDS together that becomes a terrifying statistic for every pregnant woman and for some, can turn what should be the most joyous occasion into a very fearful and anxious time.

I felt the need to write this post, not to scare expectant mums or shock anyone with numbers but because since I had my baby and met so many new mums who’ve struggled with conception, miscarriage or infant loss, I’ve come to realise how lucky I am. I fell pregnant without trying, had a symptom free pregnancy and a text book natural birth, producing one healthy, strong bouncing baby boy. The point of all this is that during the pregnancy I never thought I would experience anything but that! It never crossed my mind that anything could go wrong. But it does, all the time, for women who’ve done nothing wrong and who don’t deserve it. To carry or deliver a baby into this world but never get to watch them grow seems to me to be the cruelest fate for any mother.

So there are really two things I want to say here. Firstly I just want to express how thankful and lucky I am to have my beautiful baby, here with me, healthy and strong and growing every day. I’m not even sure I believe in a God but if he exists I’m so grateful that he looked down on me and brought my baby to me safely. Secondly, I want to give my upmost respect and love to any mother who has lost a child at any stage. There are more of you out there than I ever realised and I think you must be some of the bravest and strongest women on the planet.

I truly hope that with all the social media posts and blog posts just like this one, that women and families who’ve been through this will feel more able to talk about their grief and their loss and maybe find friends who’ve been through the same thing.

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