Monday, 29 April 2013

Breastfeeding advice from me to me

My relationship with breastfeeding hasn't been a smooth one, to say the very least! With Charlie, I was a very idealistic first time mum - I read all the books and magazines from cover to cover during my pregnancy, and was convinced that breastfeeding would be easy, natural and really, the only option. I won't lie to you, when I heard anyone say they intended to bottle feed, I hoiked up my judgey pants, gasped in horror and heartily disapproved (albeit silently).
Yes, I was going to be a natural mother, I would have a silent labour with no pain relief, I'd breastfeed until he was at least a year old, and none of it would be a problem. WRONG!!!  Wake up and smell the epidural, mama!
After a 24 hour labour, failure to progress, hormone drips, epidural, 2nd degree tear, ventouse delivery and countless stitches, I was in utter shock the first time Charlie was put to my breast. Holy hell, that first latch was unbelievably painful!
I tried, and tried, but every time I went to feed him over the next few days, the pain was ridiculous, and each time I became more and more tense and panicky. He fed almost constantly, and neither of us were sleeping at all. He picked up on my tension and every time he went near my breast, he'd start screaming and shaking his head. I convinced myself that he hated me!
Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, I developed a horrendous case of mastitis. Honestly, I've never felt so ill in my life! 
Every time Charlie cried, I wanted to run away, because I knew that it meant a painful and stressful feeding session, and I struggled to bond with him at all. It didn't help that everyone else in my antenatal class was happily bottle feeding, and would joyfully tell me how their babies would sleep for hours at a time after having a bottle. Eventually, after three weeks of living in a black hole, I couldn't take it anymore and gave him a bottle of formula. He drained it within seconds, fell into a deep sleep and I finally fell in love with my baby. I never looked back.

With Daisy, I didn't even consider breastfeeding, she was given bottles from day one, and I didn't feel the least bit bad about it. Even when my breasts leaked oceans of milk in the first couple of weeks, it didn't even occur to me that things might be different this time. As far as I was concerned, the quicker those bad girls dried up, the better! To be fair, I did bond immediately with Daisy, she's never (touch wood) had any allergies or major illnesses, and she's no worse off for being a formula fed baby.

This time, however, I feel completely differently about breastfeeding.. I'm in a very happy, supportive marriage and Steve is completely on board the boob bandwagon. There's a whole lot more professional support available than there was ten years ago, plus all manner of gadgets that I'd never even heard of back then!
Besides, apart from the obvious health benefits for both myself and Baby Widders, we are a really outdoorsy family. We want to be out there camping and having day trips as often as possible, and how much more handy would it be to be able to just whip out a boob, tuck baby under my top and carry on, than to drag loads of bottles and formula with us?

Of course, it's a bit of a worry that things will be difficult, so I'm preparing myself this time with a plan of attack. Here are my coping strategies...

Knowledge is power

I'm arming myself with as much knowledge as possible. Watching and rewatching videos on this site , memorising proper latch pictures, and learning about where to find support and help when I need it.

Tough it out

The one thing I wish I'd been told ten years ago, is that it will be hard to begin with. Everyone, even the most established breastfeeders who might be feeding their sixth babies, finds it tricky in the early days. Every baby is different, and the first days and weeks will be spent learning each other's ways and getting into a groove.
Yes, it's supposed to feel natural, but it will hurt a bit. No boob is used to that kind of action, so of course it's going to be a bit toe curling to begin with. According to almost everyone I've spoken to, there just comes a point after several weeks where it all clicks into place, doesn't hurt anymore and starts to feel easy. If only I'd known this before! I just assumed that I must be failing or doing it wrong because I found it so damn hard!
So yea, I am prepared this time for it to hurt, I'm prepared to be exhausted and emotional and feel like it'll never get better, but I'm also determined to keep reminding myself that it will pass.

Go, gadget, go!

I'm shocked by the amount of groovy gadgets you can get nowadays to help with breastfeeding!  Nipple shields to help babies latch on without chewing your bare skin to bits, lanolin cream to soothe chafed, cracked and bleeding nipples, breast shells to catch leaking milk and not waste it, little sucker type things to encourage flat or inverted nipples to behave, hot/cold packs to place on sore's awesome! I have them all already...

Pump up the supply

I've read that having a c-section means that your milk doesn't kick in the way that it would if labour hormones were involved, so I'm aware that it'll take a bit longer to get established. I've bought an electric pump and intend to express between feeds, not only to encourage milk supply, but also to enable daddy to give a few feeds and give me a rest!
I've also been reading up on certain foods that can help increase milk flow, as well as googling the bejeezus out of "How to increase milk supply", so hopefully all of this knowledge should help. The internet is brilliant, because it's there 24/7 and I know that even in the middle of the night when I feel like I'm the only person on earth who is awake, I can get the ipad out and find some kind of answer online.

Take the support!

Luckily, there is a local breastfeeding support group which I've already joined. It's awesome to know there are so many ladies nearby who are also feeding, and it's a great way to make friends. It's also good to know I have support from my family, who will be more than willing to take over around the house in the early days, so I can just concentrate on feeding my baby.

So there we go! Fingers crossed, it'll all go well this time and I'll become a happy breastfeeding mummy. I'm not going to get stressed or beat myself up and I know that if I feel wobbly (which I'm sure I will), I can come back to this post and remind myself why I'm doing it.
If you're breastfeeding, struggling with breastfeeding or a happy bottle feeder, please feel free to tell me your stories!

Friday, 26 April 2013

The Final Countdown - 6 weeks to go!

Gestation: 33 weeks

I'm feeling: Oh my, what a strange week it's been! I've been very up and the beginning of the week, nothing was bothering me at all! I was on top of the world and feeling unstoppable. It's been a busy week though, we've had the kids' friends over, visited family and had the usual business of school runs, extra curricular activities and my regular "Must clean/cook/bake/make all the things" outbursts. As a result, yesterday was a pretty low point. I'd overtired myself, was very very sore and my patience levels were all but gone.
Poor Steve was the first one to get it, he was on his way to work yesterday morning and I cried big snotty tears all over him because, I don't know, he hugged me I guess, and that was enough to set me off! Molly (my dog) jumped up and cuddled into my neck, shooting Steve evil looks as if to say "What did you DO to my mum???". Pretty funny, really!
Then, later in the morning, I had an urgent medical need for chocolate cake, but didn't have the energy to make one, so I cried because shop bought cakes are Not Good Enough and I don't know, maybe the sky was too cloudy or something. I didn't need much of an excuse.
The kids came home from school and Daisy was in a bad mood because she'd fallen out with a friend. The reason? Daisy doesn't like Monster High and her friend does. Disaster. Where does she get that drama from, hmm???
Oh, then she had a tantrum because she spelled one of her spelling words wrong and scribbled all over her notebook, which resulted in me absolutely losing it, grabbing her and slamming her bedroom door. Cue big snotty tears and heaving sobs from both of us...Yup, it was one of those days!
We actually made up beautifully after that, had lots of cuddles and apologies on both sides and all was well. I was very sore though, and spent most of the evening bouncing on my birthing ball, taking deep breaths and making ouchy faces, while inwardly feeling pretty disappointed with myself for losing my patience earlier in the day. It's all good now, though!
Today has been brilliant, I went along to a local breastfeeding group, just to introduce myself to other BFing mums, and it was lovely! Everyone was very nice and I got to hold lots of gorgeous little babies, which made me very excited for my little bunny coming along soon! It was nice to be out of the house and I'm really looking forward to making lots of new friends soon!

I'm eating: Still the same stuff - mango, star bars and ice lollies.

Baby prep: Almost finished packing the hospital bag, I bought all my toileteries yesterday and have put in a bid on a gorgeous changing bag on Ebay - fingers crossed!
Still need to get a cot mattress and bedding, but other than that, we're almost done!

6 weeks and counting! I absolutely cannot wait :)

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Prenatal thoughts on postnatal depression

Oh yeah baby, it's time to talk about the tough stuff!
I've been there, and it's absolutely nothing to hide or be ashamed of. I think there is still a bit of a taboo about PND, and people feel that if they have it, it might be perceived that they're somehow failing as a parent, or are unhappy with their baby, which is not the case at all!
I used to be a nurse, and when we spoke about patients experiencing pain, we used the definition "Pain is what the patient says it is, and occurs when the patient says it does".
In other words, the patient is always  right, and it's not up to anyone else to decide how severe their pain might be. Same goes for depression - nobody else can tell you what's going on with your depression except you!
Often, people will say that they can't understand why they feel depressed, saying things like "But I have nothing to be depressed about".
Just to be clear - depression and unhappiness are completely separate entities. Yes, they often go hand in hand, but depression is far more complex than just feeling sad.

I became depressed when Charlie was a baby, but rather than feeling unhappy, mine manifested in the form of anxiety. I couldn't think straight, and would forget things constantly. I ended up obsessively making lists in an attempt to get my head in a straight line, listing everything from drinking a cup of tea, to having a shower, to changing his nappy!
I would constantly feel like a bad mum, and the slightest thing would upset me. Just someone saying hello to Charlie in a supermarket would send me into a panic, that they thought I was a bad mum because I wasn't talking to him enough! I remember being in floods of tears because some stranger must think they had to say hello to my poor neglected child...I was a mess.
The depression lifted on its own after about a year, and I didn't seek help because I was so ashamed of myself for not coping.

After I had Daisy, it struck again. The old feelings of being a bad mum, the obsessive list making and the constant panic attacks over every little thing. I alienated myself from friends because I was so afraid that they'd think my house was a mess, or that I hadn't dressed Daisy well enough, or that she might cry and they'd think she was an unhappy child. Argh!
Eventually, I did seek help this time, and my Health Visitor and GP were brilliant. I took Sertraline for a year, and it made a whole world of difference. If only I'd realised how common it was and asked for help before, it might have never got so bad.

It's all too easy to assume that everyone else is coping brilliantly and that you're the only one who is struggling. It's by no means a failure to admit that you're not feeling the way that you hoped you would.

I'm almost certain that this time round, it's all going to be great because I have a brilliant support system in place, I've got the experience to know that these little things aren't the end of the world and I'm so much more confident this time. Having said that, I know the signs to spot and I'm more than willing to confront depression if I can feel it lurking in the background.
At the end of the day, honesty is the best policy. Don't be scared that people will think less of you or that you'll seem ungrateful for your lot in life if you admit to feelings of depression. It's just an illness, just a chemical imbalance and absolutely nothing to hide from anybody. 

I'm prepared for the possibility this time that it might happen, but I've got my coping strategies in place, which I'll post about at a later date.
If you're suffering from PND, or think you might be, please speak to someone. The help is out there, and with a bit of support, I promise that this too, shall pass xxxx

Monday, 22 April 2013

The Final Countdown - 7 weeks to go!

Gestation: 32 weeks

I'm feeling: This week has been pretty uncomfortable! The baby has started getting kinda cramped in there I think, so occasionally does this thing where s/he curls up into my ribs and then suddenly stretches out, it's like s/he's trying to jump out! Owwww....
Also getting quite sore round the groin area, especially when I stand up after sitting/lying down, lots of pressure and discomfort, but it's all part of late pregnancy and I'm definitely not complaining!
Hormone wise, I've been pretty stable this week, no major tearfests or anything. There was one day when I was feeling unnaturally irritated and hot and felt myself getting impatient and snappy, but I realised what I was doing and took myself away for a few minutes and gave myself a shake! My loved ones don't need to deal with grumpiness, so I'm glad I have the insight to keep that side of things to myself.
Other than that, I'm happy, excited and tired!

I'm eating: lots of sugar cravings this week, so a good amount of chocolate and ice lollies, and I had a craving for coca cola, although I'm trying to rein that in because fizzy drinks tend to give me horrible heartburn.

Baby prep: Another pretty busy week here, I've bought a few more bits for the hospital bag, and tie dyed some baby clothes, I'll save that for another post! I know there's still a good few weeks to go, but I'd rather have the bag ready to go just in case!
Pram and car seat are due to be delivered in 14th may, can't wait :)

So, that's another week done! In some ways, I'm getting impatient because I just want to meet my baby, but in others, I'm just enjoying these last few weeks. With both kids at school, I'm getting loads of time to crochet, rest, take naps and read, and I know it'll be a looooong time before I can have that much free time again!
As long as this little bunny is wriggling around and growing happily inside me, I've no reason to rush things, the next 7 weeks will fly by, I just know it!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Baby Widders

I wish I could find the words to describe how much this baby means to us, but I think they'd all fall short!
For both of us, we thought we'd missed the boat on the baby thing. My youngest was away to school and I was single in my early 30s, so I doubted if it would ever happen again. Steve was 39 when we met, and circumstances meant that it had never happened for him, so he assumed he'd missed his chance.
I remember saying to him that it was a shame he'd not had kids of his own, because he was so natural with mine, and he said he had always wanted to be a dad, and still did. Well, I was nowhere near finished in terms of having kids, so it was clear from very early on that we would both be delighted to have a baby together.
I'll never forget his face when I proudly showed him the positive test six months into our relationship. We'd only just started trying, so neither of us expected anything so soon! He just kept grinning, saying "Oh my God!", stroking my face and telling me how amazing I was and how much he loved me. It was such a special moment.

This baby is so adored and wanted, by all of us. S/he will be a link that bonds us all even more, an actual physical part of me, Steve, Charlie, Daisy, and all of our parents and siblings. Our family is so close, and our baby will be born into so much love. S/he will never be short of arms to cuddle, playmates and smooshy kisses, we just can't wait!
We absolutely appreciate how lucky we are to be having this little bunny, and even the least comfortable parts of pregnancy are embraced with open arms. We couldn't be happier or luckier, and we will be meeting our baby soon, it's going to be amazing.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

My girl

Isn't she beautiful? I can't believe she's six years old already!
She was born the day before my 27th birthday, and was a very much longed for second child. This time round, I had the confidence of a veteran mother, so her babyhood seemed to be so much easier for me.

I'll be honest, I always dreamed of having a girl. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't in the least bit disappointed that my first child was a boy, but I had good reason to believe that my second could well be my last, so I was over the moon that I got my wee girl! In fact, it took me several nappy changes to let it sink in that yes, she really was a girl!

I have to say, I enjoyed every second of the baby days with Daisy. It was tinged with sadness, because every stage that passed, every time I packed up another size of clothing, or stopped using bottles or nappies, another part of my "babymama" days was over. By this time though, I appreciated how fast it all went, and I soaked up every joyous second of it.

She's a glorious little firecracker, full of mischief and cheek, but still very very much a little girl, so innocent and full of wonder. I love telling her stories about Santa or the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny, and seeing her little eyes shine with excitement and her face light up with possibility and the faith that in her little mind, the world is a magical place where only good things happen.

I love the way that she's such a Stevie's girl, she climbs into his lap as soon as he sits down anywhere and she just absolutely adores him. Look how close they are, it's amazing!

One of her favourite things to do is make cards and pictures for people, I'm forever being handed scraps of paper with hearts scrawled all over them and "I love Mummy" in her lovely handwriting. A few weeks ago, I found a picture in her school folder with hearts and the name of a boy in her class. While for the most part I just thought it was adorable and innocent, it brought a tear to my eye, because it suddenly made me realise that one day, my tiny little girl will grow up. She will be let down by boys who don't deserve her, she'll have her heart broken and I won't be able to stop it from hurting. I know because I've been there, and I know that it's an essential part of growing up, but oh, how I want to just wrap her up in a sparkly blanket of unicorns and fairies and whisper "Just stay little" to her.
For as long as I can, I'll embrace her tiny innocence, we can deal with the tough stuff later. Right now, it's time for cupcakes and finger painting and enjoying every moment of gorgeous childhood. Here's to my beautiful princess, and holding onto the magic as long as possible.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

My boy

My son is ten years old - how did that happen? He's a pre-teen, for goodness sake! He does what pre-teens do - he goes to bed too late at weekends, sleeps too late, plays on his computer, is completely oblivious to mess and avoids showers unless absolutely necessary.

He was my first baby, and when he was placed in my 23 year old arms, I had no idea how much he would change my life and my heart forever. I had read the books, taken the classes and bought far more stuff than I would ever possibly need, but what I didn't expect was the emotional impact. Not just the sleep deprivation, the paranoia that I was doing it all wrong, and the utter shock to the system...I had no idea that as soon as I stepped out of that hospital, the world would suddenly be different to me. 

When you become a mother, you feel not just the pain and need of your own child, but the sudden awareness of how helpless and innocent all the world's kids are. I didn't realise that I'd never again be able to watch so much as an advert about a suffering child without a painful tugging at my heart. It changes everything.

Of course, as is the way with first babies, you find yourself wishing it away - you can't wait for the next stage, you will them to grow and change and develop, with no idea just how quickly it will all go. Now, I look back at the last ten years and it seems to have passed in a flash. All those times I would wish for five minutes peace - I had no idea that one day, sooner than I thought, he'd be up in his room asking me to shut the door on the way out because he was busy doing important Minecraft related things!

He'll always be my baby though - no matter how big he gets or how embarrassing my hugs might become! I see him nowadays at nearly the same height as me and I do feel wistful that it all went by in a flash, but the future is just as bright as the past. He's a clever, focused young man who makes us proud every day. I can totally imagine him doing very well for himself in a complicated technological career that I'll struggle to understand, bringing up kids of his own and being a loving and attentive husband to a very lucky young woman.
For now, though, I'll look at him all sleepy eyed when he comes downstairs in his Muppets onesie with the hood up, and I'll remember that he may be getting bigger, but he's still my little boy, and I'll treasure him forever.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Meeting my soulmate - a love story

I never believed in soulmates before. I mean, I knew you could meet someone and feel an instant connection with them, be it a friend, colleague or what have you, but romantically? Unlikely!
The way I saw it, when it came to relationships, you had two choices - either wait for someone who is absolutely perfect for you in every way (and feels the same way about you), whilst ignoring everyone who isn't absolutely amazing, or meet someone who is nice, wants the same things you do, and make it work.
Being the impatient type (and not being entirely convinced of the whole soulmate thing anyway), I went with the latter, which explains why I ended up spending 13 years of my life with the wrong person.
Well, the less said about that, the better, but what I will say is this - you know that thing where people say when you're with the right person, you just know? Not only is that absolutely true, but the same applies when you're with the wrong person - you just know.
It doesn't matter how hard you try, how well you get on, how much you might try to fake it or force it, if you are with the wrong person, you know it, they know it and you can't ignore it forever. That sense of unease, that gnawing unhappiness will sneak in under your door like a fog. It will follow you around and get into your lungs until you can't breathe. It will hurt your chest and twist your stomach, and one day, maybe after one year, maybe after ten years, you will reach a point where you realise that being alone with at least a chance of proper love in the future is far less scary than being in the wrong place with no chance of proper love, ever.

Anyway, I digress. I took that big scary leap of faith and spent almost a year on my own. I made mistakes, I was selfish, I rediscovered my youth, met more wrong people and despite my fears, I realised that actually, I was okay on my own. That's where the second cliche comes in - you'll meet the right person when you learn to be okay with yourself. I wasn't a serial dater, I wasn't a party animal, I'm a mum. I like being at home, I like homely things, and eventually, I was comfortable to just work hard, take care of my kids and be alright with me.
And that, my friends, is when it happened.
I got a random message online from someone who I'd briefly chatted to many months before, and instantly felt very comfortable with him. We met just two days later, and got on immediately. I thought he was gorgeous, he says he thought the same, and about an hour into the date, without realising it, I suddenly noticed that we were naturally holding hands. He said that when you meet the right person, you can tell right away, and I replied "Well in that case, I think this is the bit where we kiss".
The rest is history! That first date was one of those completely "thunderbolts and lightning" moments. Seriously, it was like that part in a film where the twist is revealed, and you think "AHA! So THAT'S why all that happened!"
Suddenly I knew why things had never worked out before, it was nothing like two strangers meeting for the first time, there was a recognition there, as if we'd been looking for each other all our lives. Steve felt exactly the same way, and the whole first date was spent excitedly catching up on each other's lives and laughing about how shocked everyone would be that after one date, we were completely in love.
After the pubs closed, we weren't ready to be parted yet (but ever the lady, I was determined to go home by myself), so we wandered the streets until 4am and eventually, after reluctantly getting into separate taxis, we immediately sent texts saying how much we missed each other!
As soon as I got up in the morning, I drove straight to his house because I couldn't wait to see him again. 
We've not spent more than a day apart since then. He moved into my house two weeks later, and we spoke about marriage and babies right away. It was never a case of "if", but "when".

We were married in a very emotional humanist ceremony on 2nd March, exactly a year to the day from that amazing first date. On our wedding day, I was 25 weeks pregnant, and it was lovely to know that our baby was there. As I said in a speech on the day, he has shown me what proper love is, he's taught me to never settle for less than I deserve, and he's made me realise that real happiness is absolutely worth waiting for.

So that's the story! It could have been longer, but some of it has to be kept just for us, right? 
The moral of the story is this - don't settle, the real thing is out there. And to Steve, my best friend, my co-parent, my partner, my lover, my soulmate....thank you xxxx

Friday, 12 April 2013

The final countdown - 8 weeks to go!!!

Gestation: 31 weeks

I'm feeling: Physically, a little bit sore. I think I'm getting a bit of SPD, so whenever I get up from sitting down, I get a pain in my pelvis and groin, and sometimes it's painful to walk. Turning over in bed is pretty tricky as well!
Emotionally, I'm feeling really happy at the moment. Had a very tearful day earlier in the week, for no real reason at all, I think it's just raging hormones! I'd been in town and was sore, and constantly on the verge of tears, then had a bit of unpleasantness on FB which led to me being in floods of tears for ages, so silly! 
Anyhoo, apart from that, I've been really happy and content, enjoying time with the kids and just loving the last few weeks of pregnancy!

I'm eating: Food cravings this week are much the same, chocolate and toast, and soft fruits. According to my scales, I've lost 4lbs this week, which can't possibly be right because I'm eating like a demon and growing bigger every day!

Baby prep this week: We had a lovely day last weekend, when we took the kids to Mothercare to choose some toys for the baby. I was so touched to see how excited they both got about it, and how much thought they put into it. Charlie chose a lovely story book with a little furry puppet attatched, and Daisy chose a stuffed strawberry with lots of little sensory bits, like teethers, crinkly bits and mirrors. It also has a little baby strawberry inside which Daisy is excited to show the baby!
We also built our cot, and I started a bit of shopping for the hospital bag, such as new pyjamas, maternity pads, etc. Getting there!

Next week, I plan on taking the whole week to be completely lazy. The kids have been off for the past two weeks, and I really appreciate how content they've been to just play around in the house, at least I didn't feel under pressure to be constantly taking them away places. I've still been kept busy trying to keep Daisy entertained and trying to encourage Charlie to spend a bit of time away from his computer every day. Next week when they go back to school, I fully intend to do my bits of housework and then just flop!

Oh, and look at this random moment of awesomeness...

Daisy is so excited about being a big sister, and she speaks to the baby every day. I push my bump out to pretend the baby is kicking in response to her voice. Sometimes, it actually is kicking, but I exaggerate it to make her feel like the baby likes her better than anyone else! She runs through every morning to my bedroom and gives the baby a cuddle, it's adorable! I can't wait to see her little face when she actually sees the baby for the first time, it'll be such an emotional moment.
Charlie is excited as well, but he's not as vocal about it. I know he is though, because I see his face light up when there's a baby on the TV, and he always squees over tiny baby clothes and shoes in the shops. They'll both be amazing role models for their baby brother/sister :)

Friday, 5 April 2013

The Final Countdown - 9 weeks to go!!!

Gestation: 30 weeks

I am feeling: Restless! Nesting instinct has kicked in big time, and everywhere I look, there are dusty corners, crooked pictures and smears on windows. Every time I sit down, I get an urge to get up again and clean something! I've bought a new steam cleaner thingy, so everything that stays still for long enough gets the crap steamed out of it. I know I need to relax a bit, once Baby Widders is here, I know I'll have days where I'll just be lucky to get the beds made and take a shower, but for the moment, I'm keeping myself busy making sure everything is pristine.
Wishing I didn't feel quite so anxious about messes though, I'm not normally like this so it must be pregnancy related. The other day, I even found myself in floods of tears for no other reason than because I felt like I hadn't done enough for the day. I do have a bit of a strange phobia of wasting time, which I try hard to keep under control, but some days I do find myself feeling panicky if it's past lunchtime and I haven't done what I'd deem to be "enough". silly really, but it's just one of my quirks!
Other than that, feeling fine physically and enjoying having the kids at home for the easter holidays. They've been content to be pretty house and garded based this week, which I appreciate, but next week, I'll try to get them out and about more.

I'm eating: lots of wholemeal toast with tons of butter this week, I'll be cutting that down once Baby is here though! Also still loving lots of soft fruit, like grapes, melon and mango, and getting the odd chocolate craving.

Highs and lows: High points this week - there have been loads! Spending time with the kids, Steve and I had a lovely day cleaning Doris ready for camping season, spending easter dinner with my lovely family, getting in touch with friends, nearly finished my crochet blanket...all in all, a very good week!
Low points - just that one day of anxiety where I was getting myself upset for no real reason, damned hormones!

Baby Prep: All I've done in the past week is order some muslins, but tomorrow, we plan to go and look at prams! Also need to start researching bits and bobs for washable nappy use, and possibly start washing some clothes and things. Planning in the next couple of weeks to start batch cooking for the freezer, making lists of what to put in hospital bags, and declutter the house even more so I can take a couple of weeks off before the birth.

Only 9 weeks to go, can't believe it! In some ways, it only seems like yesterday that we made the decision to try for a baby "soon", and in other ways, it feels like I've been pregnant forever!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

"Just a mum"

It's almost a year since I gave up my full time chef job to stay at home with the kids, and I've never looked back.  Yes, I've had the kids tell their friends "My mum doesn't work", and I've had people refer to me as a "lady of leisure", but I wouldn't change my situation for the world. I'm very lucky to be in a position where I CAN stay at home and take care of my house and kids all day, and I love it!

It took me a long time to make my peace with the whole stay at home mum thing, in the past, I always felt as if I was a slacker if I didn't do all of the cooking, cleaning, childcare, budgeting, shopping etc, AND hold down a job. 

Since my kids were born, I've had full time jobs, part time jobs and working from home jobs, yet I could never settle in any of them, because really, all I ever wanted to do was be "just a mum".

At the end of the day, it's true what they say - you can have it all, just not all at the same time. No matter what we choose, or what we have to do, sacrifices always have to be made. If we stay at home, then money might be tighter than if we had a second income. If we have a job on top of being a mum, we have less time to spend with the kids, and we feel like every spare moment has to be spent catching up on housework.

There's no right or wrong way, just what we can be happy with. Some of us have no choice - certainly I've had times in my life where I've absolutely had to be earning a wage. Some of us would like to work, but it wouldn't make financial sense, by the time we've paid childcare, travel and clothing costs, it's actually cheaper to stay at home.
Some of us would go absolutely bonkers at home and need to work for our own sanity, and some, like me, just genuinely love being at home and are lucky enough that we are able to do so.
Really, there should be no judgement from anybody, being a mum is a tough enough job without us all feeling like we're being judged by each other!

I still have days where I stress myself out, especially if my husband is having a particularly busy time at work, I'll feel a bit guilty that I've spent the day crocheting, playing games and baking cakes. I need to constantly remind myself that it's just as much of a job to take care of the house and kids, and that nobody apart from me is putting any pressure on me to prove myself.

I will always be grateful for my ability to do this most rewarding of jobs. We have made it work perfectly - Steve never expects me to do absolutely everything and always just jumps in and helps out when he gets home. Financially, we cope on one wage just fine - we choose camping trips over far flung destinations, sale clothes over designer, picnics over restaurant meals, and we love our little life. I never feel like I'm a kept woman or that I'm sponging off him, we are a team and that's exactly how it should be.

How do you feel about staying at home with the kids? I'd love to hear your opinions!