FREEDOM!!

FREEDOM!!

This is the smile of freedom. The biggest, cheesiest grin I’ve had for a while and all captured last weekend when I took part in one of those bonkers mud run thingys.

Like the Great North Run, the Muscle Acre Summer Madness was one of my pregnancy projects. Whilst full of crazy hormones and frustrated at my lack of sporting activities, annoyed at my ever changing-ever growing body, I decided to sign up for a few challenges to help my body bounce back to pre-pregnancy weight and shape. But then real life happened and quite frankly even if I could’ve started running I didn’t have the energy, motivation or even the time to get back into things.

I know as well as anyone that exercise makes you feel good so the last few months have been that constant mental battle between knowing what is best and having the energy to carry it out. Anyway I was deemed fit enough to run last week by the physio and with her warnings of “take it slow”, “Run, walk, run”, “avoid hills” and “start with 10 minutes and gradually build it up” I went for my first run. Just a little 4km with a few hills and no stopping. I couldn’t help myself. I just felt FREE so the majority of her advice went out the window. I was child free and felt energised. Running is MY TIME. It’s how I process my day, release my stresses, feel strength and as a little boost my body looks better for it. So once I got back beaming that I’d achieved it I was super excited about the Great North Run and although there’s only 8 weeks to go I genuinely think I can do it.

So that leads to Sunday. Sunday was the Muscle Acre Summer Madness which I was sure I was going to miss. But then there’s me Mrs stubborn, or I like to say determined, wasn’t going to give in and I’m so pleased I didn’t. I mean look at that smile. I had fun. Oodles of fun wading through mud, climbing wooden towers, carrying logs and sandbags and that water slide! Well I felt like a big kid. What a brilliant experience. It felt great to do something for me but to top it off I had my beautiful family at the finish line cheering me on. There’s no greater motivation. I’d recommend it to anyone.

So that’s given me a real boost to up my training for the half marathon in September. Great timing really as the nursery holidays start today and as much as I’m looking forward to them this year I know I’ll need that ‘me time’ more than ever as days can be exhausting with little ones.

Today is our biggest tiny humans last day at nursery before she starts school in September and to say I’m emotional about it is an understatement. Everybody says it but the time has gone so quickly. She was just a 10 month old baby when she first started at nursery, then she was 2 when she started at Little Sandhurst Nursery and today she is leaving. We couldn’t be more grateful for all of the support LSNG have given G and our family so a big shout out to all of them. It’s a testament to their hard work and enthusiasm which brings G to tears when she doesn’t want to come home in the evening because she’s having too much fun. She always says “five more minutes Mummy” or “please can I stay for mushroom club” which is their after school club. You’d think she preferred it to being at home but I’m assured that’s the sign of a confident tiny one and that is what she has become. I’m just hoping she doesn’t cry at pick up today as that will send me right over the edge although we’ve already planted the seed of a bribe tea at McDonald’s so we might be ok!! Stop growing up so fast!

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Baby Milestones

Baby Milestones

Here I am sitting here trying to fill time to distract me from anxiously staring at the baby monitor. Our smallest tiny human is now a little over 4 months old and this week marks the time she’s been evicted from our room and I’m not exactly on board with this transition. I’m sure the severe lack of sleep is not helping as I’ve spent the day wandering around feeling like a drunk without the enjoyable consumption of tasty adult beverages.

The older girls were all in their own rooms by 3 months so L can’t see what the problem is. Supposedly we are disturbing her good sleep and she doesn’t like the spare room. Yes you can imagine I have a WTF face in full swing over this matter.

I have two issues with the move. Number 1 is the feeding situation. I’m still feeding anything from 1 to 3 times in the night depending on if I make it to bed later than 8pm or if little one is having a growth spurt or if mini pea pod just decides that she just would much rather be attached to my worn nipple rather than be in her own bed. So I didn’t really want to put her in her own room as its further to go and get her. Then I need to decide if I stay up and feed her in the nursing chair or if I bring her back to bed so I can get as much rest as possible.

Number 2 is my perhaps ludicrous overwhelming need to keep my little baby a little baby and for her not to grow up at all!! It’s crackers really as with G being my first I was all “Come on! What’s the next milestone?” But now I’m sad instead of happy at the milestones. They’re a reminder that little people grow up so so quick and that these moments don’t last forever. There is a chance I could be being a little bit sensitive about the whole thing. I mean I hysterically ugly cried on Saturday when we received the induction letter for G’s school. Can you imagine what I will be like in September??? My babies are growing up and I want to freeze time. I’m not ready for this. I’ve only just become a Mum.

Hmm….although I don’t mind if little miss chaos grows up just a teeny bit. Just enough to lose the major attitude that comes with a toddler being adamant they can do everything themselves then realising they can’t and a slight improvement on the bladder control as she chose to squat on my driver seat of the car and relieve herself. But with her smile she can get away with absolutely anything. She even has L wrapped round her finger!

So back to the room move…I hoped that tiny one would HATE her new room, and big cot, but last night she actually slept quite well. That annoys me. Maybe L was right about moving her to her own room as tonight she is also sleeping well so far. I hate it when she is right. But after the 3am feed this morning I didn’t hesitate to get her back in with me. I call it a compromise! Happy Mummy, Happy baby!!!! It was delightful waking up to this little face.

Anyway, rather than me spending time agonising over the inevitable growth of these babies I should be turning my attention and energy to expressing enough milk to afford L and I a whole day off from children when we head to ladies day at Royal Ascot. This has been planned since last year with the lads from work and it’s always a great day out. When pregnancy was dull and I was feeling fed up with missing out on social events this was one of the things I was looking forward to. Some nice, easy, simple fun with good friends! Just hoping that I can keep up with everyone and don’t end up puking, falling over or making a fool of myself since I’m severely out of practice when it comes to drinking alcohol. But letting my hair down is exactly what I need, plus I’ll have my beautiful babies to go home to (And deal with the following day!).

More than being a Mum?

More than being a Mum?

It was that point when you’ve recently had a baby and your new normal life has kicked in and you’re thinking “Is this it?”. Not that your unhappy or ungrateful for all you have but just the new routine is sometimes really hard or really dull or both. You feel like maternity leave will last forever and you’re not sure how you will be able to be the mum, the wife and the housekeeper for all that time without having something just for yourself. Well that’s how I felt a few weeks ago.

I feel that in the first few months, or maybe even years, of parenthood you lose yourself as an individual. You are a mum now and your own identity can be lost in this. I think partly it’s down to confidence. You put all of your effort and focus into being a mum so anything outside of that comfort zone feels scary and alien. Right now I look around at my wonderful girls and I feel exhausted. I’m a mum 24/7 with no time for me, Katy. I wonder if all I am is a milk machine feeding round the clock, preparing food for the older girls, constantly doing household chores which are never ending but battling with who I am and how do I flourish in all of this when I don’t even have the time to dry my hair or shave my legs.

My confidence was knocked. I rang the gym to book a class but hung up before I got through as I chickened out of it. Perhaps part of it was the thought of the physical exertion but the other part was being in that environment meeting new people and being on my own! I know! I moan about how I can’t even go to the toilet on my own but then I am scared to be on my own too. My children have become my safety net. When I was pregnant I always felt so confident and sure of myself. I’m not sure if that’s all those hormones boosting me or if it’s just the empowerment that comes with knowing you are responsible for growing a life. But with that gone the thought of me being on my own in some situations is oddly frightening!

For some I know it is enough to be at home and provide for your family but that’s not me. When I’m feeling nervous or scared I think I could be that person but deep down I know I couldn’t.

I was invited to an award ceremony at work. When I first heard about it I said “I’m not going. I won’t fit in my clothes and I don’t feel up to it”. Thankfully L and my good friends encouraged me to just go and enjoy it and I’m glad I did. 9 weeks since the tiny human arrived and I managed to fit into my tailored undress uniform that was measured for me in 2010. Pre kids!! That’s an achievement in itself. Plus I received a certificate for some work that I did last year.

Being at work gave me the reminder that I needed that I am more than just a mum. That I have successes and achievements at work in a career I love, which I want to build on. I felt proud to receive an award especially since my work is so enjoyable and rewarding.

I helped at the local church office the other week and a few people commented on how good I was. This is where people forget that you’re not just a mum but you’re a professional who manages a career. So there is more to me than the tired; dishevvelled looking mum dragging 3 small children around.

Work made me feel like Katy. I came away from the awards really buzzing. It was a blessing in disguise, exactly when I needed it, which was two fold. It made me feel excited about my new role going back to work and that I have something for myself more than being a mum and housewife but what it also did was remind me how this maternity leave is so precious. That before I know it I will be back at work and juggling that work life balance (and probably moaning about it) so I really need to make the most of it as already it is going too fast.

It’s only now that I’m feeling more at ease with my new normal and I’m certainly not going to wish this time away.

It does get better!

It does get better!

I’ve just been chatting to a lady in a coffee shop who was cooing over the tiny one who is now 7 weeks old. I now have the ability to chat to strangers and I’m enjoying showing off my not so tiny, almost 10lb, baby. At the end she said “You look so well. Unbelievably well in fact” and at that point I no longer felt like a fraud. I do actually feel better than I have. Don’t get me wrong I’m not 100 percent yet but things are improving. It’s likely I’ll have to have another surgery soon so physically that’s a setback but feeling better emotionally is really helping. Plus who wouldn’t be happy with a hot chocolate, whipped cream and a big fat slice of carrot cake for breakfast! But seriously, I’m not crying all of the time and not wandering around like a complete space cadet feeling unable to cope, and I’m laughing again. It’s baby steps but hey I only produced a whole new life 7 weeks ago!

Don’t get me wrong that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Far from it. I feel like I’m stretching myself so thin and constantly overcome with guilt when I can’t meet the demands of my young family. But I’m giving as much as I can. After the girls have had my all there’s nothing left for L or me but I do know it will get easier….maybe in 18 years!

I’ve had to lower my standards a lot. The baby was out in non matching pink clothes yesterday and G went to nursery with two pairs of knickers on this week which I spotted when she was on the toilet before nursery but by then she had her trousers on and shoes so there was no way I was even trying to rectify that at 08:45 when nursery starts at 9. The next day I completely forgot to put her in the shower after she’d wet the bed in the night so off she went to nursery probably smelling like pee. Poor soul. But in fairness I was flying solo as L was on holiday. Well she’ll tell you she was away with work but she stayed in a hotel, ate hot food in a restaurant and drank alcohol with friends. That sounds awfully like a holiday to Me! She says she’s just getting me ready for when she jets off to Vegas next month with her bestie. Don’t worry I’m making a note of all of these trips and I’m sure by the end of the year I can cash it in for a month in the Maldives ALONE. I daydreamed about it in the bath. I closed my eyes while the big kids were in bed, and before the milk bandit strikes again but just as I was feeling a little bit relaxed I hear “Mummy I need a wee”.
After an eye roll and a few choice words muttered under my breath establishing if she really does need a wee as Mummy is in the Maldives I get up and take her to the toilet then get back in the bath while she sits on the toilet having a FAKE wee as she’s already had 3 wees before bed.
“Mummy why are your eyes closed?”
“I’m wishing I’m on a desert island alone right now”
“Why’s your bath big mummy”
“Because I’m big, now have you finished your wee?”
“I need 5 more minutes Mummy”
I give up! I just wanted 5 minutes of nothing….who am I kidding???

I can’t stop thinking about how lucky we have been with our little newborn with her being so content and relaxed it has made all of the heartache and struggles I’ve been feeling so much easier. Then we got to 4 weeks. Now we always have a little chuckle when people have just had a baby and they’re all excited still and there’s a million pictures on Facebook of how great they are all doing and how good their baby is and you know it gets to about 4 – 6 weeks and things change. The baby stops just feeding and sleeping and starts fussing and you have no idea why or how to stop the terrifying sound of a newborn shriek and you realise you’re still learning about what they like and what will soothe them. Well that’s where we have been but thankfully coming out the other side. It’s when the honeymoon period is over, the adrenalin has dried up and the tears are flowing…from all of us. The low point was when it took me 3 hours to settle the little one for bed one night. I’d feed her she’d settle then she’d poo so I’d change her she’d cry then feed then poo. This went on for hours. The last time I changed her she pee’d on my bed. L was asleep next to me so I couldn’t even change the sheet. To say I was pissed off was an understatement. So I got a towel to cover the wet bit and tried again to settle her. Then the screaming started again. It woke L and then we ended up having a row about what was wrong with the baby and I asked her to go to the spare room and leave us alone. I don’t see the point in us both being tired. Not just because L is like a bear with a sore head when she’s not had enough sleep but because she has to go to proper work tomorrow. Anyway she left then the baby cried and I cried. That was that. I’ve now purchased a dummy and hoping that helps with the 6-9pm witching hours. Obviously I stood for ages perusing the dummy aisle with heart wrenching guilt coming through my body that my baby shouldn’t have a dummy but I managed to stop the tears and have a word with myself. I’ll not be upset about it tonight when it keeps her calm and quiet while I’m catching up on Greys Anatomy!

It’s ok to not be ok. Supposedly.

It’s ok to not be ok. Supposedly.

I can only describe the last couple of weeks as a continuation of the longest rollercoaster of my life! I’m experiencing highs and lows literally every single day and if I wasn’t having to keep the fluids up for feeding the milk monster it would be to stop me from becoming dehydrated from all of the tears!

Finally the time came for catheter out day. As if the general birthing a child ensures you’ve lost all dignity and privacy for your body after people have prodded and poked around, put things in places you’d rather not; then carrying around a bag of your own waste fluid is just a continuation of this unwanted experience. The doctor pumped my bladder full of dye until it was full and I felt like it would explode then took a load of pictures of it to check that it wasn’t leaking. It wasn’t which meant I could have the catheter out and just had to pee a certain amount during a few hours. Totally nailed it and did a happy peeing dance to celebrate. Never been so relieved (literally) than I felt right then. Only problem was by being so fixated on the catheter coming out I hadn’t considered I’d still be feeling pretty shabby, both physically and emotionally, once it was gone so that added to my frustration and upset.

The following day we registered our teeny tiny human and made her all official. Funnily enough her name wasn’t on the list of the top 100 in the registry office but that didn’t surprise us as we went for something she will definitely have to spell out or clarify whenever she rings a call centre. Poor kid. The big girls were at nursery so we went for a lovely peaceful meal just the three of us to celebrate. You forget how easy eating out is with only one child in tow – hot food and everything!

We have also celebrated our anniversary. 1 year since we turned our civil partnership into a marriage and 11 years since the civil partnership. I can’t believe how quickly it’s gone since the big party in Windsor. We had agreed not to make a fuss since we have quite a bit going on with the arrival of the little one but L surprised me with my wedding flowers all over again with our first dance song “Shut up and Dance” playing. There were free flowing happy tears and that warm, fuzzy feeling at just how thoughtful she is. I felt loved. She’s got to love me to put up with me over the last few weeks I know it’s not been easy for her.

Next, to add to the ride, it was time for L to head back to work. This is it. This is me on my own with our three children. This is us having to begin our new normal. I felt ready for it. I mean the OCD in me was starting to get annoyed at how L was doing things round the house which is usually my territory. I mean she’s let G have potato waffles for breakfast most days with the giveaway sign of ketchup on her face and who knows how many chocolate biscuits the chaotic one has had. L wasn’t bothered though she said it was a clear sign I was getting better now I’m bossing her around again. Plus I made it to nursery only 5 minutes late with all the snow, three kids in tow and homemade costumes for world book day. Felt epic! Maybe it’s the Northern in me, or maybe it’s just the determination that I want to feel better and back to me, that I got a bit of fire in my belly.

So imagine the disappointment that the first week going solo the tears still kept coming. I found it hard for so many reasons. I was in pain manouvering through the day from lifting the kids into the car and going about my day to day tasks as well as coping with the tiredness, so it was no surprise when the health visitor asked me how I was coping and I became this blubbering mess of tears and ugly crying face. Now I don’t know what your experience is of a health visitor but I hear a lot of people grumbling about them and their faults but I guess I’ve been pretty lucky with mine as they’ve always been fairly helpful.

I’ve only had one awkward moment with our first health visitor who discretely shuffled the ‘contraception after a baby’ leaflet out of her welcome pack she was about to give me. Yes I’m not sure I’m going to need that love! So this time round and I’m a mess expecting her to be all judgy and critical at my ability to be a good mum and her advice was “you’ve had a baby. Go easy on yourself. It’s ok to feel like this.” Phew! It was like the fog had lifted a little bit. Maybe it was ok. Maybe I’m not completely crazy. My friend told me it’s ok to not be ok. Maybe she is right. Still keep trying to tell myself that and remind myself I’m trying to get over a hugely traumatic birth, whilst juggling life with three children and not to mention the physical healing which is still not where I want it to be. My stomach for instance is a mess. I’d expect it to start resembling some sort of normal by now, maybe a little podgier, but it is still really abnormal, hugely swollen and painful in many areas – probably about 5 months pregnant looking. Trying to be patient but it’s not really my thing.

I have been living in this weird blur for the last few weeks. I’ve even gone through some of my pictures and texts and can barely remember them happening or as if it was from another time. It’s weird and surreal but my control freak nature hates it plus I feel like I’m not getting to enjoy the best bits like I would want to. Also with this emotional side of things my ability to interact with many humans, be them friends or strangers, is becoming affected. When people tell me I look great or that I’m doing so well I feel like an absolute fraud as inside I’m hurting. When people ask me how I am my response is the usual “I’m good” or “I’m ok” but really I’m not but I won’t tell you because I want to be these things I’m just not there yet and that’s ok. Supposedly. I don’t quite feel up to big groups and I certainly am out of my comfort zone with strangers. Strangers are the worst. They see you with a fresh baby and feel its essential to impart their tales about their uterus, vagina or c-section during birth when I don’t even know their name. I can’t be held responsible for my actions if this happens again; my smiling politely has ran out.

So trying to take one day at a time and be kinder to myself lowering my expectations and slowing things down. I know I’ll get there and there will be less tears and more smiles just don’t know when.

Two weeks into life with the little one.

Two weeks into life with the little one.

Two weeks old. Little miss is already 2 weeks old. She has settled into the family as if she has always been here and she’s growing fast. Already getting emotional at her growing out of some of her first size sleepsuits. Awww. I really want time to freeze her at this age and size. I think I’m going to be like this with all of her milestones with her being the last. With G I was pushing her to achieve more milestones but I feel the complete opposite.

I was due to have my stupid catheter out this week but it didn’t happen. I literally bawled my eyes out on the phone when the hospital called to say it would have to stay in another week. A real case of don’t shoot the messenger but the lucky caller got a hysterical, hormonal mess at the end of the line. I then cried on and off for two whole days. I feel for L. Clearly I’m a joy to be around!! I think we are all finding comfort in cake.

To make it worse I started to get even more uncomfortable with the catheter and after a quick check up when collecting some more pee bags my urine does show an infection but it would anyway since I’ve had the catheter in so long. The only options were to leave it and hope I don’t develop any other symptoms or to remove the catheter and put in a fresh one. Since I already feel like someone has set my pee hole on fire there’s no way I’m letting them change my catheter unless it’s absolutely necessary. So I went home with some numbing gel in the hope it takes my mind away from it all for the next week.

Then as if we weren’t sick of any dramas and hospitals the most horrible thing happened. We found this purple bruise-like line on our baby’s stomach/side and groin so we called the midwife who came out to look at it. She said it could be a blood clotting disorder or that they have to consider it would be a NAI (non accidental injury) that someone has hurt her. I felt sick. We were sent straight to the children’s ward at the hospital and told to pack for a few nights as if it wasn’t the blood disorder we would have to stay in hospital until Monday for social services to come. Honestly L and I were crying our eyes out. We felt completely broken that either she had an awful disease or that they thought we had hurt our baby. We went to the ward and after a tense wait where we were both going through everything again and again. L said I roll her like a burrito too tight so maybe that’s why she is bruised and she was second guessing herself saying what if she has picked her up too hard. We were driving ourselves nuts trying to get our head around it all when the doctor examined her and the bruising/mark had gone. We were confused to say the least. Thankfully L had taken pictures which we could show him. Thats when technology is amazing. Straight away he told us it was a vascular abnormality and nothing to worry about! It comes out when she cries along some of her blood vessels. He also found she had a heart murmur but that’s pretty normal at this age and should resolve itself by 6 weeks. We were allowed to go home without painful blood tests on a newborn or social services intervening! It was absolutely awful being in that situation especially when people think that you could possibly harm your child. I get why they have to follow their procedures but to be on the receiving end of the questions and documentation was terrifying.
We are well and truly sick of hospitals now but so so thankful our baby is fine. We’ve been advised to carry the letter from the doctor with us at all times so that if anybody sees the marks again, say at a baby clinic or the doctors, then we can show them the proof that we haven’t hurt her. I would never have even thought about that.

Positive news is our little tiny one has put on lots of weight and her belly button stump, which is utterly disgusting and I have no idea why people keep them as keepsakes, has fallen off so we bathed her for the first time which the big girls really enjoyed. I on the other hand always find it a bit nerve wracking doing the first bath as they’re like a slippery eel. I leave that to L she’s way more confident in that area. Here’s hoping the next week goes quickly and we can start to move on from all of this drama.

Life with the little one – Day 6

Life with the little one – Day 6

I thought I’d have loads of time to write during night feeds about everything that is happening but little miss still has day and night the wrong way round so can sleep for more than 3 hours straight in the day but is up feasting every hour in the night.

Thankfully to keep me going and to help L out a lot the loveliest and super kind people from church have organised a meal rota where somebody comes to bring us food every day for the first two weeks. It’s amazing. Not just savoury food either…CAKES AND DESSERT. It’s like something out of the sweetest little movie. We are so very lucky to have friends like these.

Here’s me and the tiny one on day 6. This is 6 days since this little bundle of goodness arrived and what a delight she is. I don’t want to jinx it but so far she has been so good. Sometimes you wouldn’t even know she is there.

I’ve had loads of messages from people saying how relaxed we all seem and how happy we always are but I’ve not felt too much like that over the last 6 days. Today is the first day I feel a little bit more like me and a little bit less like utter crap.
It’s these times when you realise that without that special person in your life you wouldn’t have half the strength you do. L has been my absolute rock this last week. She’s not only had the girls to look after or the day to day tasks at home but she has broken me out of hospital and cared for me at home with endless cups of tea and snacks. Sometimes there’s no place like home and it couldn’t be more true this week. She’s seen me at my very worst but it hasn’t phased her. She’s just been encouraging me all along the way. Although I was brave at the time I had the little puncture to my bladder and another part dissected during my section, the aftermath has not been so pretty. I didn’t think I would get past day 2 as that’s when I was completely broken but she was there for me, along with a super guardian Angel friend, holding my hand through the pain and wiping up the tears.

So I certainly don’t look like any celebrities in magazines post birth but this is real life and although not as glamourous, it’s still beautiful in it’s own way. There’s way too much pressure on new mums to be looking a certain way after they’ve had a baby but they’ve just had a baby! Give them a break. Let them wear their pjs in the house with unbrushed hair and no make up on. That’s how I intend to spend this first two weeks.
I look about 6 months pregnant with my swollen belly, L says my scar looks good but I can’t see it yet because of the belly, I have a cm cut on my nipple from feeding and everytime little one latches on my toes curl and I wince, plus I have this catheter which I have to keep in for two weeks before they can check my bladder repair has been successful. I managed to loop the tube round the bed the other night when I was up for a night feed and thought I’d yanked my urethra out. There were more tears to add to the usual post natal hormones!

Despite all of this I keep looking at our little baby who is so calm and content and tiny and it makes me happy. I’m grateful that we are so blessed. She looks like a little burrito baby all wrapped up and I would go through all of this again to have this little face to stare at.

I am still on countdown to COD (catheter out day) but I’ve made it through another day, thanks to cuddles with my 3 babies and L, so life is good. Day 7 is one step closer to being 100% me again.