Friday Five 27/02/15 – Five Things I Want My First Child to Know Before My Second Child Arrives

IMG_5474 - CopyIn just a few weeks we’ll be welcoming the arrival of our second little boy. As yet, he remains nameless but healthy and that’s all that matters! He has been a wonder to carry but it will be another nine months of health issues and anxiety that I’ll be happy to put behind me as we start the next chapter of our lives.

But in doing so I recognise that there are a few things I really want my first child to know before baby number two makes his appearance. After all, I doubt he’ll remember anything of these first two years with us before our family of one-two-three became four. 

It’s lovely that he’ll always think of us as having been a unit of four, a solid square that can withstand anything, but I guess in these first two years we’ve been more of a triangle. My husband and I have poured more love and energy into this boy than we ever did with anything before. No project was ever as big as this, no mountain was ever as tiring, no achievement was ever as rewarding. 

 So, baby boy (I won’t be able to call you that for much longer!), here are five things that I want you to know before your baby brother leaves the safe space of ‘Mummy’s Tummy’ and enters our world. 

 1) You were (and still are) so wanted.

We planned and prepared to change from a one-two into a three. We wanted you so much and were so sad when our first pregnancy ended in loss. But we know now that if that first baby had survived then we wouldn’t have had you. We would have loved that baby with as much ferocity as we love you, but he/she would not have been you

 Our tears shed on that day only served to lead us to the point of wanting you more. The fear when I started bleeding at 7 weeks, and then again at 11 weeks, of my pregnancy with you will never compare to the complete and utter love we felt when we saw your little face on the ultrasound screen – and even more so when we saw it on the day you were born. 

 2) The day you were born was hard.

I won’t lie. I generally don’t tell people about your birth, and will probably never tell you unless you ask. But it wasn’t an easy one. Nor was it easy for your dad who had to watch me go through so much pain. I steer clear of “birth story” sharing with other pregnant ladies because I don’t want to scare them. It was tough and probably (hopefully) the hardest day of my life. I pray every day that your baby brother comes out with more ease than you. 

 You are a fighter and a survivor and I am so thankful for that instinct in you. I hope and pray it grows to make you a resilient and dedicated man. Your wife and children will appreciate those qualities. 

 3) The day you were born was worth it.

Despite my prayers of an easier second birth, I would go through that day every day if it meant keeping you safe and well. It may not have been easy but it was so worth it. We have one photo from not too long after your birth where I am holding you and there are smears of blood on my hand – I love it. It encapsulates everything from that morning. As does the photo of you asleep, cradled in the curve of my arm with the cannula in the background, transfusing blood into me so that we could go home as soon as possible.

They tell the story of you, me and your Daddy – and I would do it all again every day if it meant keeping you safe and well. 

You, and the life ahead of you, were worth every moment. Never forget that. When a kid trips you up or a girl turns you down, when your grades aren’t great or an employer says no – remember that you are worth so much and always will be to me and your Daddy. 

 4) Our family of three was great.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with our little family of three. I know you’re probably too young to understand a lot of what is going on, and maybe we’ll be lucky and skip the sibling jealousy, but we’re not having your baby brother because three wasn’t enough. There were nights we lay in bed and marvelled at the fact that we were a three, and how lucky we were that the third was you.

Your baby brother will enhance our family. He is not coming to fix us, but to improve us. Had we forever been a three we would have been just as happy with our lot. 

God granted us a little number four and we know that the experience of having a sibling was and is something we want for you because we had that experience ourselves. One day we may well find ourselves a one-two-three-four-five, but there are no plans for that. Your baby brother will make your life even better, the way you made our lives so much better. Our one-two-three was amazing – never doubt that. 

 5) There will always be time for you.

Life with a newborn can be hectic and foggy. Sleepless nights, tiring days, visitors who come all at once and then go, leaving the four of us to muddle through the best we can until we find our rhythm. But know this – there will always be time for you. Though there will be feedings and more nappies and maybe a baby who won’t sleep anywhere other than on Mummy or Daddy, there will always be time for you. Whatever you want to tell us will be heard, whatever you want to show us will be seen, whatever you want to do with us will be done (within reason, baby boy – I’m not eating Cheerios off the carpet with you!) 

 We are fortunate enough to be surrounded by family. Your grandparents will always have time for you. Your extended family will always have time for you. Our friends who have become like family will always be there for you. Whether it’s a drum lesson or some cuddles you’re after, a kick around or a place to crash when you’re mad at us… both we and they will provide that space and time for you – for your beautiful little face and your amazing big personality. 

 Our love for you will not split with the arrival of your brother. Rather, our hearts will grow to accommodate extra love, extra time, extra vitality and strength. Your space will not get squashed. Our triangle becomes a square. Our one-two-three becomes a four. You were a fantastic only child but you’ll be an even better big brother. 

Thanks so much for reading! Please like, share, comment and retweet – your encouragement means so much. Come and find me on Facebook at facebook.com/mumwriting or Twitter at @mumwriting. Have a lovely weekend 🙂

Friday Five 13/02/2015 – Five Reasons I Won’t be Seeing Fifty Shades of Grey this Weekend.

P0052_036Five Reasons I Won’t Be Seeing Fifty Shades of Grey This Weekend

So there’s this film coming out. You’ve probably heard about it. It’s based on a book written not too long ago. I know plenty of people who’ve read it. In fact, I started to read the first one because it came preloaded with some other best sellers on my Kindle. I think I probably read just under half of it.

And then I stopped. And despite “Mr Grey” being a Once Upon a Time actor whom I would have liked to have seen act in something else, Fifty Shades isn’t on our list of things to do this weekend. Why?

1) My husband and I already have Valentines plans.

They are to sit and watch the most recent episode of the Blacklist, to tick off another idea pulled out of our date night jar (which is to do a couples quiz and then discuss our answers), and to eat our favourite foods. That’s it, that’s all we have planned. Some may find that a bit sad. It’s not sad. Nor is it comfortable. We will be doing something we enjoy together, learning new things about each other and enjoying eating things without sharing them with our child!

We will be spending time together – time that matters in a busy life with a new-born on the way in a few weeks. What better Valentine gift to give than our time, that so easily slips away from us to other things?

2) I respect my husband and he respects me.

No one can escape the Fifty Shades articles that have been flying around recently, but I’ve done my best. Why? Because I’m not interested. I respect my husband too much to expect him to sit through what is essentially a film from a book written so that women can swoon and imagine what a different life would be like. I don’t need a different life.

Nor does my husband, and it’s not just the idea of the book/film, it’s the content. I think we’re all pretty clear where Fifty Shades goes. My husband respects me too much to want, need or expect me to act the way the characters in the book/film do. And I love that about him.

3) Things change when you have kids. Or maybe sons? I’m sure other mums can give their opinions on this, but I want to bring my sons up in such a way that I teach them to respect women. That will start with them learning to respect me and continue, eventually, with their future wives.

How the character in this story acts is not how I want my sons to act. It’s not how I want them to treat women, so why set that example for them now by going to see this film that’s whole intention is to make me want to be treated that way?

4) I am heavily pregnant and the girl in this film is a stick.

Nothing against skinny people – I used to be one! (Isn’t the word skinny awful? Slim, I should say.) But at 32 and a half weeks pregnant, I’m not sure seeing a tiny girl writhing around is going to make me feel any better about how I feel right now. My aching back and pelvis, the extra weight I’ve put on my face, my daily changing body shape is all a hugely amazing gift from God because it means I’m carrying a tiny (pretty big) boy.

But that doesn’t mean I want to be reminded of it by seeing a slim (see, that’s better) brunette, in gorgeous clothes who’s had her hair and make up done by a skilled team of professionals, being seduced in front of me. Because it reminds me that right now I am huge, aching constantly, dealing with Braxton Hicks regularly and feeling feet digging into my ribs. Happy Valentines Day (not)!

5) For me, Valentines Day means something else.

From a very young age, my sister and I both received Valentines cards. Every year. I’m not being big headed – they were from our dad. We knew that and he knew that we knew. But it made the day special. We went to school with smiles on our faces. Ever since then, Valentines day has meant reminding someone just how wonderful they are.

It’s a day to feel loved, to be made to feel special and wanted – just like every other day of the year. But people forget in the day to day chaos of life how special they are and sometimes need reminding. So that’s what Valentines day does. In the whirlwind of life that gets us all stressed, emotional and constantly bombarded with real life, this is one day, maybe one card, perhaps even one person or picture or greeting as you walk into work that says “Happy Valentines Day” and reminds you that you’re special. You’re someone to be remembered and treasured and valued. I’ll write one card for the one person who, above everyone else, makes me feel valued to remind him just how valuable he is to me.

So why would I spoil that intimacy with a film about a book that was written to satisfy millions?

Thanks for reading! I know there are a lot of opinions on this topic, so from this I’ll keep my mouth shut, but if you agree with anything I’ve written please like, share, retweet or comment. Your opinions matter. You can also find me on Facebook at facebook.com/mumwriting or Twitter at @mumwriting

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Friday Five 06/02/2015 – Five Things That Scare Me about Being a Mum of Two

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I can’t wait to have two kids. I really, honestly, can’t. I’m so looking forward to seeing them interact and learn about each other and, eventually, play together. But I can’t say the prospect is totally fear-free. In fact, there are a few things that I’m scared of…

1) Mealtimes

This is probably my biggest fear. I remember not long after having my first, being proud of myself for managing to get the tea on the table and the baby asleep at the same time so that my husband and I could eat an evening meal together. How am I going to do that whilst entertaining a toddler as well? Yes, he’s getting better at playing by himself and the likes of Peppa Pig are often a blessing – especially when I’m trying to make dinner! But with a baby too? A baby who, in the first few months, is going to be totally unpredictable in terms of feeding, sleeping and pooing.

Mealtimes are something we’re working on with my little one at the moment. He loves finger food and hates actual meals like Stir Fry or Pasta Bolognese. So we’re working on a schedule with him at the moment where one day we eat a meal that I know has at least two preferred foods of his in, and then the next day we have a regular family meal. He’s just having to deal with it and it’s hard. (Strategies welcomed!) But doing all of that AND feeding a baby? Aargh!

2) Bedtimes

We have a great routine at the moment, but that will all change as we hope to get the first one into a bed before baby comes! So it’ll be all change there. But it’s so handy having two adults and one child to deal with. We tag team and it works well. But what do bigger families do?

Do two-child families have a kid each? Do you take it in turns so that each parent gets a night off? Or is it just all hands on deck, whatever goes? Again, strategies for this kind of thing would be great! Can we bath a baby at the same time as bathing a two year old? (The eldest only has oil in the bath because he has dry skin patches). Or will we have to do two bath times, two bedtimes and two routines entirely?

3) TV Judgement

Can we be honest here for a minute? Yes, our child watches TV. He also uses the iPad. Now, out of the two of them, we actually prefer iPad time because of the interaction, but he does have a couple of favourite programmes and (as I mentioned) Peppa is a genius at getting dinner ready!

Of course, we won’t just plonk the baby down in front of the TV. And there’ll be the new added element of sibling interaction to take some attention away from TV time. But when our two year old needs that quiet moment with Mr Tumble after an upset or an episode (or two) of Peppa so that tea can be ready on time… that’ll be when the health visitor turns up and sees a baby in the same room as a toddler and a TV. My second child’s first word will be Tumble. I can see it now. I’m not looking forward to the judgement (as there always is) about screen time.

We will be as adept as we can be at providing other activities for the two of them. But I think there may well always be time for Tumble…

4) Getting ready to leave the house

It’s already hard enough to get “coat, shoes, hat…” sorted for the boy whilst finding my boots, coat, scarf, keys, phone, purse and whatever else. I swear we carry the world around in that changing bag! I downsized at Christmas and got an absolutely beautiful, patterned bag in readiness for the new baby. I chucked out everything unnecessary that had found its way into that blasted thing and restocked and reorganised my beautiful new one. It works lovely at the weekends. Not so much on Grandparent Days (currently my working days) during which they might want his wellies, or posher clothes, or clothes for getting dirty in, or a waterproof coat, or extra nappies or… anything! I never know, so I try to stuff it all in there. We’re still using the old bag for that!

Will my beautiful new bag stay beautiful and not get completely ruined by the addition of extra nappies, muslins, spare clothes and bottles? I’m sure our old changing bag used to be lovely once… How is it going to be possible to get both of them ready, not sick or pooey or muddy, but dressed and clean AND myself on days when my husband isn’t in?

5) This may well be us.

Number four. This could be it. The last one. There are no plans for another. There were always plans for another after the first, despite how badly pregnancy and birth treated me! Now there are no plans other than to keep the four of us healthy and happy.

I’m not sad about that. If I was sad there would have been serious discussions and we would have come to some form of agreement, even if it was an agreement that for now we wouldn’t talk about it but maybe one day… There is no “one day…” discussion waiting to happen. So if I’m not sad about it, why does it scare me that maybe this is it? Can other mums shed some light?

Is it just that I need other friends to continually have children so that I can always enjoy new-born cuddles? Or is waiting for grandchildren my next round of nappies and muslins? I hope not, I’m only 25!!

Is this just the motherly instinct? Will that always be there? For now, let’s just deal with getting this one out safe and the eldest used to all the changes. Because there are a lot to come…

Thanks for reading! If you share some of the same worries, or have ways of dealing with them, PLEASE share your expertise. You can find me on Facebook at facebook.com/mumwriting or on Twitter at @mumwriting. You guys are brilliant, and your likes, shares, retweets and comments make me happy! Happy Friday!

The List

Friday Five 23/01/2015 – Five things no parent wants to hear after making a hot drink…

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Massive apologies for missing a blog on Wednesday. It was my first missed blog since I re-started in January and it made me very sad. BUT I was off work unwell so I had good reason. Anyway, today’s Friday Five…

Friday Five 23/01/2015 – Five Things No Parent Wants To Hear After Making a Hot Drink

1) Any sort of noise from a baby monitor.
Sorry, but nap time is for parents. Today I intend to have a shower, eat a chocolate pudding that’s in the fridge and then have a nap myself. So noise from a baby monitor will not help any of those things get achieved. It seems like every time parents sit down with a cup of tea or coffee, that monitor starts flashing. Not sure why it works like that, maybe there’s a fault with all baby monitors!

2) “Cuddle!”
One of the cutest words to come out of a toddler’s mouth, but not when you have a steaming cup of coffee. And not matter how many times you say the words “hot tea”, the word “cuddle!” comes back at you.

3) “Peppa Pig! (Followed by either “please” or a stern look from your two year old depending on their manners!!)
We can’t be the only parents dealing with the ‘Peppa Pig Problem.’ In fact, I know for certain we’re not! But when you just sit down to watch perhaps the one programme you ever watch during daytime hours, you can be sure that’s when they’ll ask you to switch the scart over (if you’re as technically challenged as we are!) or to get up and find the DVD remote that’s been hidden between some sofa cushions somewhere… Bye bye hot drink!

4) “VooVoo ate my car.” (Followed by tears)
Now, I got this particular phrase from the programme Bing. But so many phrases can be inserted instead! There are a million and one silly reasons why toddlers cry. They make no sense to us, in the real world, who have important things like tea and coffee to drink. But to them it’s the world. So everyone else’s world has to stop. Now. Before the tears turn into something more extreme. And the world ends. And life can no longer go on. (I’m sure you get the idea!)

5) “Mummy”/”Daddy”/”(Insert cute toddler name for parent here)”
You love them, you really do. But that drink… oh how that drink would have been lovely! But you’re needed – for one more story, or kiss, or to play shops, or to find the missing plastic banana or to give a kiss and stop tears.

Hot tea and coffee is a luxury many parents these days go without. But, you know, first world problems and all that! We’d give it up every day in a flash if it was a choice between coffee or those kids. Probably.

Thanks for reading! Please repost, share, like, retweet and all those other things! You can find me on Twitter at @mumwriting or Facebook at Facebook.com/mumwriting. Share the love!