Motherhood Made Me

Before I fell pregnant, I thought it was something that would only ever happen to ‘other’ people. I’d notice the grand gestured announcements on Facebook and feel as though it was never going to be my turn.
In truth, I have to admit that for a long time, I didn’t know whether I ever wanted it to be. A part of me would feel pathetically sad each month when my period arrived and yet, another part of me would rejoice and think ‘thank god, I can continue as I am’. I was a mixture of desperate to fall pregnant and desperate to remain the same.

I’d been in no rush until my periods started having a mind of their own. I’d go two weeks over my cycle and the wonder would start to kick in. ‘I must be pregnant’ I’d think. Then the show would come and I’d be left questioning why my periods were so out of tune.


After several blood tests, it was confirmed that my body wasn’t producing the right amount of hormones. Some months, my fertility was suddenly jeopardised and my ability to join Motherhood was threatened. Having the choice of whether I wanted children, had allowed me to take it for granted but the moment I was told I may not be able to, I instinctively knew I HAD to become a Mother.


In a bid to drown out my sorrow, I made myself as busy as possible. I distanced myself from my Husband so I didn’t have to admit that I might be a bigger failure than he even realised; so I didn’t have to admit that I wanted children more than we’d really discussed.

The issues surrounding my periods had almost tricked me too many times into believing this was the time I was pregnant. I started taking contraception again as a means of feeling as though I had some control over what was happening. Through packet breaks, I’d wait anxiously to see if my period arrived.

Mostly, it didn’t.

I was 9 weeks into the first trimester when I first realised I was pregnant. My Gran had warned me that I would know intuitively when I fell…I didn’t have a clue!

Days before I took the test, I’d ventured up coast with some of my closest friends. We’d joked over how I’d gained weight despite dieting strictly and upping my gym routine. Worryingly, it wasn’t just my stomach that was showing – I could no longer get a pair of knickers to fit comfortably (I later learnt that this was due to my pelvis widening to give way for childbirth). I’d made us stop a million times to pee and felt bizarrely nauseous every time I sipped soda water.

But it wasn’t until I nearly passed out at my Auntie’s funeral that I realised something was a miss.

I’d began to resent purchasing pregnancy tests – the singular pink line was just an insult to me and my failing body. This time, I felt blasé about it all. Suspecting the result would reinforce my inability to conceive, I headed off into a local supermarket toilet. I mean, why get sentimental about it all? The test was most likely going to end up in the sanitary bin along with my pride and hope.

Also, I was incredibly hungover and just wanted the whole scenario to be over as soon as possible.
What can I say? I froze with fear when the second pink line manifested right in front of my eyes. Instantly, I vomited (which could have been the effects of the shock or the hangover).

I felt sick because I knew I hadn’t been looking after myself like a pregnant woman should. I’d drank far too much, restricted my calorie intake and overworked my body in hope of shifting those piling pounds before my holiday (which was only two days away).

I felt sick because my ideal moment had taken place in a skanky cubicle toilet with no-one close to share in my joy and fear.

I felt sick because the surge of maternal instinct was powerful and intense. I could not lose my child, ever. The need to protect was overwhelming and immense.
That doubt over whether I’d ever wanted children vanished instantaneously. I’d never wanted anything more in all my life!

Becoming a Mother made me. It wasn’t until my Son arrived that I realised, I was lost beforehand. I’d struggled with who I was, with what I wanted out of life, with what I’d tolerate.

Motherhood made life clear. I wanted love and affection but not from those who didn’t deserve it. I wanted for me what I wanted for my children. I wanted happiness, fulfilment, joy and laughter.

I wanted meaning!

Motherhood made me value my worth. It suddenly became obvious to me how I needed to be treated…by others but mostly by myself. I found myself admiring my body and appreciating it in ways I’d never been able to before. My swollen postpartum stomach was worn with pride. My newly carved (and much wider) hips were beautiful and miraculous. I understood that if I put myself down, I’d only encourage my children to view their own flaws as negative or unattractive. I couldn’t entertain the thought that my own behaviour could be responsible for inflicting their own self-loathing in the future. Instead, I knew that I must instil confidence in them through displaying my own confidence outwardly.
I realised that I only needed the love of myself and my children. Anything above this was and is a bonus.

From the moment that second pink line appeared, I had changed. Changed in ways which made me whole and better.

Being a Mother has made me more patient, more tolerable, more kind and empathetic. It’s made me more confident, more assured, more certain and assertive.
It’s shown me how to be the best possible version of me and for that, I’ll always be grateful.
Grateful for the two amazing gifts I was granted.

I’ll Love You Always, Remember You Forever

So this is it – the first day of the rest of my life without you. It’s a day I’ve dreaded for as long as I can remember, a day I’d hoped wouldn’t come for yet another decade. 
I held your hand yesterday, as you finally allowed yourself to sleep. I sang you a lullaby under my breath, said my prayers for you. You were beautiful your entire life but in that moment, you were radiant. I saw the peace in your heart, the relief in your face. 
We were relieved too. Thankful for your calm departure. 
Thankful is a word I want to use a lot today. You see, you’ve given me so much to be thankful for. For you alone, I’m thankful.
You’ve always inspired me – even as a little girl. You taught me how to read and write before I went to Primary School. You sat for endless hours on your sitting room floor showing me how to curl a C. You patiently reiterated word after word as I read aloud to you. As I grew, you continued to instil a love of English into me. You listened to my poetry, told me how talented I was. You read my stories, encouraged me to write more and more. At 30 year old, I still find pleasure in the passions you nurtured. You gave me the confidence to pursue a career in English, the confidence to publish my writing for others to read.

You gave me the best advice. You were always the first person I turned to in a crisis, the one I’d believe could make me see sense. I’ll always be grateful for the time you spent advising me. You watched me transition into a woman, put my mind at ease at every uncomfortable or daunting moment. 
The day my Husband left me, you discovered me lying alone in my Mother’s hallway. The pain of my heartache had rendered me physically unable to move. You sat beside me, stroked my hair and reassured me that I had the strength within me to get up and move on. You made me see my worth, appreciate that if he never returned, I’d do so much more than survive. You held my hand as I steadied to my feet. Like a newborn Deer, my knees buckled and weakened. You held my hand, made me straighten my back and carry on living.

When he returned, you wished us the best and told me you were proud of the strength I’d shown, that sometimes it was stronger to try and make things work than simply disregard them. You had a way of making me feel as though I’d always made the right decision (even if you believed I hadn’t).
The day I discovered I was pregnant, it was your advice I wanted to hear. I could never imagine becoming a Mother without your guidance or support. You were there the day my son arrived, you were there throughout his colic and when my heart broke over not being able to breastfeed, it was you who showed me that there was no shame in formula. You who made me see that his eating habits are nothing to become stressed about. From the day my Daughter arrived prematurely, you taught me to panic less, to be dramatic less. You’ve loved my children with the same unconditional love you showed me and my Brother. You’ve told me over and over again that I’m doing a wonderful job. I couldn’t be a Mother without you. The Mother I am is down to your advice and relaxed approach. Thank you for making me feel like I’m doing alright. 
I owe my sense of Adventure to you. My Mother, a natural born worrier, would have seen me swaddled in cotton wool. You encouraged me to experience life. Told me that I shouldn’t ever let fear or worry prohibit me from living. It was that courage which made it easy for me to leave my profession and seek new challenges. You’ve always made me see that change doesn’t ever have to be daunting, change can be miraculous, exciting, necessary!
The change we’re experiencing right now is harrowing and tragic but even to your dying day, you wanted us to believe that even this was for the best. 
Whilst you were still conscious, you asked us all to be happy for you. We are. We’re happy that you’re no longer suffering, no longer in pain. We’re happy that you’re with your Father again, dancing on his shoes. We’re happy that we saw you leave, had time to say our full goodbyes. Mostly, we’re happy for the life you’ve given us. 
I feel privileged to have known you, honoured to have felt your love, advantaged to have so many beautiful and noteworthy memories with you.
So thank you for your amazing grace. Thank you for making me the woman that I am.
Thank you for being my Gran, my best friend.
I’ll love you always, I’ll remember you forever. 

Not Just for the Kids

If asked in life whether I have many regrets, no would be my answer. I’m lucky enough to know that even my mistakes have helped shape me into the person I am today. I’ve learnt from them, grown from them.
There’s things I should regret, things I’m not proud of, things I would do differently if given half a chance. Our marriage would be one.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not me admitting that I wish I hadn’t married you, I don’t! 

I was 24 at the time I said my vows, and although I completely meant them, the promises I made meant very little. I’d no experience of what ‘love, honour and obey’ would actually entail. 

Like every little girl, I had dreams of the fairytale ending. I’d pictured you as my Prince Charming, my expectations of you were unrealistic from the start. Maybe this was because of the whirlwind of a relationship we’d endured to begin. I’d never meant to fall in love with you, I wasn’t looking to achieve long term goals. Though, there was something about you that I just couldn’t resist.

You were kind, considerate, loving and romantic. I had my barriers up having been intensely hurt before but you were patient, you swore you’d break them down.

Eventually, you did.

Eventually, I weakened and you hurt me more than I ever knew possible. 

The day you proposed to me, out 1st anniversary together, you made me the happiest I think I’ve ever been. Looking back, I wonder whether you meant it or if you just got caught up in the romance of the occasion? It meant something to me, I was dedicated to forging a secure future together. 

Then, two weeks before we were due to be wed, you told me you didn’t love me. I knew, I’d known for a while beforehand too. The romance had stopped, you no longer looked at me with admiration, I irritated you. I gave you nothing. 

Our marriage felt tainted from the start. I entered it knowing that my love was no longer requited, knowing that your decision to stay was based on not wanting to let people down. So, your leaving two weeks later came as no surprise. I’d been waiting nearly a month for you to do the right thing. I can’t say it broke my heart, that had happened those two weeks prior to our wedding.

When you came back to me, I wanted it to be for love. I wanted it to be because you couldn’t live without me. I wanted it to be because I was enough but I always felt that I wasn’t. You could never tell me why you loved me, always struggled to say why you’d returned. 

And yet, I allowed five years to pass. Never told you how I was feeling, never forgave you for the mess you’d made. Never gave my mended heart back to you wholly.  

Along the way, we had children (maybe it was fate, maybe it was stupidity). Finally, I saw what I’d been missing, the ‘you’ who had been there for all that time. I saw that you’ve loved me throughout it all. I’d just been blinded by my own stubbornness and fear. I realised that I have been enough, even though I’ve made it hard for you. 

 Watching you with our children has made me love you more and more than I ever expected. That’s why, I could never regret the life we chose.

Our children showed me that our marriage was meant to be. Throughout all the hurt, the arguments and the doubt, they are the reason why we are surviving, the reason why I know we won’t give up without fighting as much as we can.

Our marriage has been challenging, I’ve no doubt that it will continue to present even more along the way but I want you to know, I’m still rising. 

Not even just for the kids, but for us, because I can see you now and I’m ready to let us forget.



The Good, The Bad and The Honestly Insane

Baby announcement

Before I fell pregnant, I had a somewhat rose-tinted view of what it would be like. I imagined peeing on a stick, one hand clenching the results and the other placed tenderly in my Husband’s grasp. We’d see the pink line appear and jump harmoniously, tears of joy running down our cheeks. The reality? I took the test alone in a local supermarket toilet (which was a good place to be considering I nearly shit myself when I saw the positive symbol). Nobody had prepared me for that initial surge of emotions. Holy crap – I was about to become responsible for keeping someone ALIVE.

As I embarked on my journey through pregnancy, I discovered that there was lots of things women ‘hid’ from each other. Some of which I may have been grateful for but some left me feeling cheated by womankind. Why had no-one told me what it was really like?

So here I am, baring the truth (or my perception of it, I know we all have different experiences).

People told me that I’d instinctively know when I was pregnant, that I’d feel different. It’s true, I did spot differences but I’m not entirely sure I believed they were pregnancy related to begin.

I recall the day before I took ‘the test’. I was at Bamburgh Castle with a few of my closest friends. I remember confiding in them that my ‘area’ felt different, a little wider, less able to fit in a thong so comfortably. I simply put it down to the few extra pounds I seemed to have gained, in spite of dieting excessively to fit in my bikini a week later. I was 9 weeks on when I took the test – and already showing.

So, now with an explanation in hand, the fun really started. Having already expressed that my perception of pregnancy was Hollywood influenced, I looked forward to the glow and compliments of radiating beauty.

This part I skipped – both times round. My glow was more of a luminous shine created by the several hot flushes I’d experience in an hour. My compliments came in the form of ‘well isn’t your face round these days’ and ‘you won’t look tired forever…just until your child is 5’. I mean, I had moments where I could cry at the way I looked but I knew it was short lived. I managed to find positives in most things (like when my face filled up with fluid and gave me a free Khloe Kardashian lip makeover).

pregnancy shoot

Another thing I wasn’t expecting was the speed in which my leg hair would grow. In the early days I shaved those bad boys…every day! Sure enough, I’d wake up each morning appalled at the sandpaper texture of my pins. It was manic. Then…I became too damn fat and could no longer reach them. After a while, my priorities lay elsewhere and the legs became neglected. There was an awful moment when I was 35 weeks pregnant. I’d been Chief Bridesmaid at my Best Friend’s wedding the day before. As a treat, my husband had arranged a leg and foot massage to help me feel better after standing so much at the wedding. It wasn’t until I was laid bare from the waist down on the massage table that I realised my legs hadn’t been touched in maybe 5 weeks. I felt hideous.

Then there was the wind – the painfully loud and blatantly obvious wind. I think this part speaks for itself.

Between the sweat, the farts and the leg hair, I can vouch that pregnancy is not always as glamorous as the Movies make it out to be. However, even they don’t document afterbirth.

So here I was, in labour. Now the one thing I had been prepared for was the possibility that I’d open my bowels on the baby’s head. Honestly? In the heat of the moment after nearly 11 hours of pushing and 15 hours of labour, I couldn’t have cared a less. In fact, I would have welcomed it if it made the tinker extract himself any quicker.

In the Movies, I’d deliver my baby and scoop him up in a loving embrace. My hair would be perfect and my make up would still be in tact. I’d get up from the bed and head home, several stone lighter and in perfect form.

The reality? I think being hit by a bus would be less painful. Oh yeah, and thanks for the heads up about how my ‘lady garden’ would be feeling. Despairingly, I convinced myself that I’d had a prolapse. I made six Doctors/Midwives check me in several positions to make sure I was in working order. They all told me the same outcome – I was fine. The seventh Doctor (a 40 something year old man) told me ‘I’ll check you again but then really, you need to draw a line under this’. I listened to him but never fully believed him until one morning, nearly two weeks later, I stood up and felt ‘normal’ again. So, what had been wrong with my Foof? swelling! Yes, apparently after the trauma of childbirth, one’s delicate place can be quite swollen. Remember this one and save yourself the embarrassment of getting in trouble with your Husband for flashing Doctors left, right and centre.

Now comes my last glamorous point, the 1st time you try to open your bowels will feel as though you’re pushing your insides out. Good luck with that…

But every cloud has a silver lining doesn’t it? This one simply couldn’t be better either. You’ll have heard about how much you’ll love your own baby but seriously, it’s indescribable. It makes all of the above disappear in a single heartbeat and completely worth it.

Tristan 4 hours old


To The Struggling Mother

To The Struggling Mother
I saw you yesterday in the Shopping Centre as you pleaded with your son to stop climbing out of his pushchair. I watched you patiently reason with him, I noticed the glazed look in your eyes signalling your submission. You were ready to give up, I wondered whether mentally you already had. 
I saw you in the car park pleading with your son to sit still as you fastened him safely into his car seat. I observed how you gently handled his convulsing body as you guided him into position, one rigid arm at a time. I spotted the tiredness in your face, tired of fighting, tired of having someone constantly battle against you.
I saw you in the supermarket retrieving the dummy he’d thrown on the ground numerous times. I noticed you as you handed it back to him, knowing too well he’d throw it again only seconds later. I knew what you were doing, you were hoping that this would be the time that the dummy pacified him. I sensed the agitation (at yourself) as you realised it wasn’t. I saw you bribe him with something from the trolley, desperate for a few moments peace, just long enough for you to complete the task at hand. I detected your embarrassment as you wondered whether anyone would spot your chocolate covered child and blame you for being incompetent.

I saw you at the park, the anxiety almost luminous as you encouraged your daughter to become more independent. Your reluctance radiated, your nerves were translucent. I admired you as you cast them aside, hid them seamlessly from her as you pushed her to let go. I watched as you took a step back, then another and relinquished control as she started to ease into her new surroundings. I knew it was hard for you, I wondered whether your palms were sweating, your heart was beating.
I saw you in the changing room as you struggled to keep your daughter still long enough to change her nappy. I sympathised as you realised you hadn’t brought a spare pare of bottoms, the one time you’d forgotten them, regretting allowing yourself to become confident in her abilities as accidents haven’t happened in so long. I noticed the anger (at yourself) trembling in your bottom lip. You felt rubbish and awful, a low point in your day. 
I saw you in the toddler group, trying to calm your daughter from her tantrum. I viewed you as you apologised to the other parents for her behaviour, made excuses for why she was screaming so intensely. I grasped the level of your discomfort as you realised no other children were crying – or had cried this session. I knew instinctively that you felt alone, as though you were the only Mother ever to have a crying baby. You wondered why it was always you, what the other Mothers were doing better to make their children more content. 
I saw you and I recognised you. 
I spotted the familiarities of my every day life and it made me feel better. I’ve been you for so long, you’re living in my shadow. 
I spotted you and you noticed me, you mistook my smile as pity, my look as judgement. I want you to know, I wasn’t judging, I was trying to let you know you’re not alone. 
You’re part of a new sisterhood, a coven of Motherhood. We’re united by our struggles, joined by our understanding of how hard life can be and ultimately, how bitter sweet it also is. Motherhood is both magical and manic, traumatic and terrific. 
So, to the struggling Mother, you’re not struggling at all! You’re doing an amazing job. Please take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. We all feel like you, we’re all trying to do our best.

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You Say My Hands are Full

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the 1st one to admit that my life these days is crazy. From 6am until 10pm, it’s a whirlwind. There’s no time to moan about everything that needs doing and how little time I have to do it all in. There’s no time to stop and reminisce about how simple life used to be.

Life with one baby can be testing (especially in the early days) but life with two is a whole other level, completely incomprehensible until experienced. It is, without doubt, manic.

But I love it.

There’s no need for an alarm clock these days, I no longer wake to the sound of my favourite tunes blasting through my phone. I wake to a much sweeter sound, I wake to the sound of my new name. Much like clock work, my son wakes religiously at 6am – long before I desire to wake up, long before my husband’s alarm is set. He stirs, he stands, he chants for ‘Mam’. I’m tired, I’m in need of at least one more hour but I can’t deny his call. Inside, I’m ready. I’m giddy to get up and see his goofy toothy grin as he beams when he sees me. He wakes euphorically, last night’s tantrum hidden by his smile. Then I hear the cry, his sister is stirring and the mania is about to begin.

I’m in at the deep end, abandoned by my husband as he leaves for work. My initial task, tackle the nappies. It’s something I’ve learnt to master. My Daughter is a dream, she can’t yet roll. My son is a different story. He rolls, he walks, his hands know where they shouldn’t be and he can’t resist that level of temptation. I’ve learnt to manoeuvre upside down, wrong way round, standing up and whilst on the move. I sometimes grin to myself, if I were Supermam, my super powers would be the ability to change nappies under duress.

Nappies attended to, now for breakfast. They say you never get two babies the same and in my case, it’s true. My son is fussy, he doesn’t see food as a form of entertainment, he doesn’t need it to feel good about life (I don’t understand him, he doesn’t get his lack of appetite from me). My daughter is greedy for food, needy for a filling. She just needs to sense that there’s food within close proximity for her to want it.

I sit, my son positioned to my left, my daughter positioned to my right. Both hands move mechanically, a spoonful of porridge for my son, a spoonful of porridge for my daughter. I can’t stop, if my left hand stops then I’ve lost my opportunity. Once his mouth is closed, once he’s lost interest, I might as well give up. There’s no coming back. If my right hand stops, my daughter unleashes her temper. She squeals until she’s purple-faced and unable to breathe. Not even the spoon can calm her down, she’s inconsolable until she feels the hunger again. What about me? Well my son loves to share, I get the lumps he takes out of his mouth and pushes to my lips, he’ll be distraught if I dare reject his offer of kindness.

Next comes play time, my favourite part of the morning. Siena is getting stronger each day, at 8 months old, she’s not like other babies. She’s had further to climb and she’s rising to the challenge just fine but she’s still small for her age, still unable to do most things an 8 month old should be able to do. She now enjoys her Jumperoo, although he feet still don’t quite reach the ground. This is where her brother comes in handy. He stands beside her, bouncing her up and down, side to side. He shows her the toys, teaches her how to work them. I watch them and my heart hurts with pride. I’m so proud of how Siena flourishes, I’m proud of how Tristan has taken to her. I’m proud of how gentle he can be, how much love he has for her…then he spots her dummy and the peace is momentarily disturbed. He is such a dummy fiend, his only weakness. He is so incapable of seeing another baby with a dummy without releasing the green eyed monster (or in his case, the blue eyed devil). Even if he has two of his own, nothing will appease him.

If I’m lucky, they nap.

In which case, I clean. That’s right, my only hour off and I spend it doing tasks that I wouldn’t manage to do otherwise. Some of these are a complete and utter waste of time. I tidy away toys, knowing that I’ll repeat the same job maybe three more times in the day. I get myself dressed, ready to hit the ground running as soon as they both wake.

Now for the fun part, let’s leave the house. Bags packed, I tackle both babies at one time. A fully loaded car seat in one hand, my son attached perfectly to my hip. I really do bless them for how slender my arms look these days. My arms have always been my least favourite part of my body and the place I always check first on a photo. These days, I appreciate their natural tone. They may never be as svelte as they once were but human weights have definitely contributed to their current state.

In a perfect world, my day would be seamless. In reality, it can go one of two ways. Either both babies will behave, they’ll be merry and we’ll manage to survive tantrum free. We’ll laugh together, everyone will eat and we’ll come home feeling inflated with love and the memories of a truly delightful day. Or we’ll cry. Recently, I visited the Metro Centre with both babies alone. My task was to pick up my Daughter’s christening gown and head straight home. It was awful!

At one point, I was actually approached and asked whether I needed help. Well wasn’t it obvious?! Of course I needed help! My son was psychotically clawing at his sister, determined to snatch the dummy from her mouth. My daughter was so distraught she was choking on her own saliva. I’d tried reasoning with him, I’d even tried bribery. In the end, I shouted. I shouted out loud for all to hear. I swore, I nearly cried.

Hideously embarrassed, I dashed from the store and headed to the car. As I transferred my son from his pushchair to his car seat, he wrapped his arms around my neck and kissed my nose. I was, once again, putty in his hands.

So, on a typical day, it’s no wonder I hear the chorus ‘you’ve got your hands full’ several times. I do. I have two babies with only 9 months between them, both still in nappies, both incapable of talking. But aren’t I lucky?

I’ve twice the laughter, twice the smiles, twice the love and twice the pride. So you may say my hands are full but you should see my heart. It’s bursting with joy.


Still As One

IMG_2724Today is our 5th Wedding Anniversary – and it’s probably been our most trying year yet – but here we are, still as one, still honouring our vows.

Nobody ever said marriage would be easy, everyone said we’d have mountains to climb, problems to conquer. Being the person I am, I’m too quick to focus on the negatives (so I’m going to get them out of the way very quickly) but not today. Today I know you love me.

Wow, this last year has been hard. We’ve been faced with dilemmas we never anticipated, hardships we could never have dreamed of. I’ll start with the obvious. We never once processed the idea that our little girl could arrive so early, we never considered that she’d be so poorly to begin. Most couples might pull together in times like this, of course we didn’t. We pulled against each other, we bottled our emotions, our sadness and our anger and took them out on each other. We were so strong when with others yet crumbled around each other. We were so full of positive energy when with others but full of self pity when with each other. There were times when Siena was in hospital when I thought our relationship would never survive it. We we both so close to walking, we both craved the easy option – but here we are, still as one, still honouring our vows.

Then Siena came home and we were faced with a completely different challenge – life with two babies! Before Siena, we found time for each other. We even found time four ourselves! With two babies, separate time just seemed a distant memory. When she was so young, it was definitely turmoil. Yet now she’s 8 months and we’re starting to regain the time we lost. Our lives might be incredibly busy – but here we are, still as one, still honouring our vows.

As I said earlier, it’s easy to focus on the negatives but this last year has also been full of perfect moments.

I look at you differently since the birth of our children, you are, without doubt, the best Father I could ask for. You love them both and make them both so happy. With Siena, you’re delicate and gentle. With Tristan, you’re crazy and wild. He looks up to you so much and you’re forming a role model I’d be proud for him follow. You work so hard to give them a better life and yet come home and completely focus your attention on pleasing them.

You’re hands on – in every meaning of the phrase! You change nappies, bath babies, wash the dishes, Hoover, iron, clean, change bedding – the list is endless (as you know). You do it all and you only moan every once in a while. Now, I’m not saying that you do all the work – I hope
You’d admit that I definitely share in the effort but I know from others that it’s still rare to find a man who cares about these things. You do and I can admit that I’m lucky.

You’re thoughtful – you consider me in most decisions you make without me. Sometimes you overthink things which leads you to get it wrong…sometimes you get it so wrong I could either murder you or laugh hysterically. Like the time you ordered a Moonpig card because you were so sick of my moaning about your last minute dash to Sainsbury’s. You forgot to edit it so our Valentines card is made out to Claire and Andy. Or the time you bought me a DKNY watch which was the ‘blingiest’ thing I’ve ever laid eyes on because you thought I’d appreciate owning something different to my usual taste (there’s a reason I never buy jewellery and wanted a small diamond, I HATE the bling). Sometimes you get it so wrong that in the 1st instance I feel as though you don’t know me at all…then I take a step back and can see how amazing it is that you’ve done it at all.

These days, our life is so busy that it would be so wrong of me to ask for the ‘big gestures’. I have to realise that there’s still evidence that you love me in all the little things you do. You now insist I put my phone down for at least an hour each night, we might do nothing other than sit and stare at the TV in this time but I know you ask me to because you want to relax – with me, not on your own. You stop off on your way home from work to buy my favourite treats, unprompted, unasked. You spend hungover days traipsing around farms and country walks because you want to spend time as a family. You let me have all the lie ins (even though I rarely do a night feed these days, you know I’m still awake just watching our children sleep). You let me have nights out with friends and never moan about being at work then looking after two babies on your own. You push me to buy things for myself, put money aside so I can spoil myself. You make up my cup so all I have to do is add water when I wake up on a morning. You let me have the best looking pieces of food. You cook when I’m too tired (even though we recently just had a bowl of stroganoff sauce because you forgot to make anything to accompany it). You dance like an utter tit to songs on adverts. You do all the jobs I don’t want. Our lives may be constant at the minute – but here we are, still as one, still honouring our vows.

So here’s our promise to each other. Let’s make our 6th year less dramatic. Let’s focus on the babies we have (and plan no more). Let’s find time to laugh with each other. Let’s make more memories. Let’s be boring for a change and ultimately – let’s still be one, still honouring our vows.

Love you x

Did I Steal Your Childhood?

  You were 10 weeks old when your sister was conceived. It was not something we’d planned for so soon but something we’d definitely hoped for in the future. You were our firstborn and had shown us a different way of life. Before you, there had been laziness and selfishness. You’d opened our eyes to what life was all about and your newborn radiance was simply addictive. Suddenly, we knew that we needed more children.

Even still, we’d hoped to wait a little longer than we did.  When Siena chose us as parents, the feeling was completely surreal. With you, there had only been joy. From the tiny pink line that indicated you were baking, love and excitement had ran through our blood. We were changing, getting ready for parenthood and couldn’t wait for your arrival. When the tiny pink line appeared only 15 weeks after your birth, we were left momentarily petrified.  Not because we didn’t want Siena, we wanted her more than our hearts could imagine. We were petrified for you. You were so young, just budding and you needed us so much.

Although still overjoyed, It was very clear that your happiness was at the heart of everyone’s thoughts. I’ll never forget the reactions we encountered as we broke the news of our second bundle. ‘What about poor Tristan?’ They chorused. ‘He’s too young’ they said. We sensed their anxieties, heard them muffled in their throats. They stood out louder because they were all anxieties we’d dealt with to begin. The most upsetting reaction we encountered left me tormented throughout your sister’s pregnancy. ‘Tristan will have to grow up on his own, he’ll have to grow up very quickly now’. It tormented me because it made me feel so guilty. I’d loved every sleepless second of your childhood (okay, maybe that’s rose tinted, you’d been hard work but completely worth it). I didn’t want to put an end to the fun we’d been having, I didn’t want you to ever become anything less than my main priority. I certainly didn’t want you to feels as though I didn’t care about watching you grow, I cared so much.

You should have been nearly one by the time Siena would arrive – old enough to recognise change but not old enough to understand. This gave us time, time to form that inseparable bond I hope we never lose. I didn’t want to deprive you of your childhood, I wanted to dedicate ever waking second to you. I didn’t want to rush you to grow, I wanted to slow time down and keep a hold of you. You were by far the most precious jewel in my possession. I wanted to nurse you and protect you for all eternity. I made a promise that until Siena arrived, your every need would be my main priority. I was determined that having a pregnant Mam wouldn’t affect you in any sense.

So, until the day I delivered (and even in the delivery room), I was there for you. I lay on the floor and stared into your eyes as I encouraged you to do Tummy Time, I sat legs apart and passed the ball back and forth, back and forth a million times. I carried you on my hip through supermarkets and shops, beaches, parks and riversides. I gave you your bottle and snuggled into you each night, stretched over your cot to make sure you didn’t stir as I put your sleepy body back to bed. I was your Mother and there wasn’t one thing that would stop me from caring for you the way that you needed me to.

Then Siena arrived and our world suddenly came to a halt.

She was so poorly and needed me so badly. I had no choice but to break our deal and make her my priority. Momentarily, you were forced to ‘grow up on your own’ and it broke my heart. Now you’re 15 months old and we’re back to trying our best. Siena still needs me but we all need each other just as much. I watch you with her, gentle and caring. You beam when she enters the room, love to be near her. There’ll come an age when you’ll play wit each other, I used to worry but now I know I needn’t. I dedicate my time to making sure you cherish each second of your childhood. I make sure each day is spent making memories and living experiences. I’ve maintained your baby routine, make sure it’s me that gives you your bottle, make sure it’s me that puts you to bed.     Throughout it all, I listen to your giggle, I marvel at your smile and I ask myself, how could I have stolen your childhood? It’s still very much your own.   

Twinkly Tuesday

I Survived the Baby Blues

 Before my children were born, I lived in a world of ignorant bliss. My idealistic views of Motherhood stemmed from American Soap Operas and Chick Flicks. They were, in truth, Disney influenced. 

That’s why, when my children were born, I suffered so badly with guilt. As a new Mam, I’d no idea of the trials and tribulations each day would hold. My visions were cloud lined with images of me cradling my newborn, cheesy grinning, prancing abound my living room like Mary Poppins. It wasn’t that I expected it to be easy, it was how the Media had led me to believe.
I expected that my son, Tristan, would be placed in my arms and I’d cry with happiness. That I’d scoop him up in a loving embrace and declare to the rest of the world ‘it’s okay, I’ve got this’. I expected that when he cried, I’d know instinctively what he wanted and how to handle him. I expected him to latch to my breast harmonious and feed like he’d been waiting for me forever. Only now, a full year on, am I ready to speak the truth.
Tristan’s birth had been slightly traumatic. I pushed for hours upon end without any medication. I’d been allowed to continue pushing because his heart rate had not faltered, he was not feeling the same distress as I. However, it became apparent that something wasn’t right. Tristan was lying on an angle that would prohibit him from coming naturally. I was taken to theatre and given a spinal block in preparation for an emergency C-Section if his heart rate plummeted whilst moving him. In the end, no C-Section was required but I was left paralysed from the armpits down.
As I lay exhausted and convulsing from the medication, the midwife cleaned Tristan up then rested him on my chest. This was the moment I’d been waiting for. The moment where I was meant to kiss his blood stained head and cry. Instead, I froze. ‘Somebody take him’ I sobbed. I didn’t have the confidence. I was tired and didn’t have control of my arms. How would I protect him if he rolled?
So there it was, the most important moment in my life and I was already a failure. But was I? The dream is, and always has been, that you’ll look dotingly into your baby’s eyes and immediately bond. I loved my son immediately, intensively but I didn’t bond with him as quickly as I’d hoped. I remember being scared of him, thinking that I wasn’t what he wanted, thinking that he didn’t like me (I know, ridiculous right?) However, many mothers feel this way. Many new mothers have experiences like myself.  This doesn’t seem to stop us lying through our teeth and saying aloud what society wants us to say. We all contribute to the Media’s representation of immediate Motherhood.
So what else do we lie about? I remember being asked a million times whether my son was ‘good’. ‘Oh he’s a dream’ I’d state ‘he’s just the best baby EVER’. What I meant was ‘he cries…all the time. I don’t know what I’m doing. If he’s good then it’s definitely me that’s bad. Oh god, I must be rubbish’. I remember one awkward moment with my male next door neighbour who dared ask me this question on the wrong day at the wrong time. He got my honest response. ‘Welcome to parenthood’ he declared. ‘We all felt that way to begin’. This was a revelation. If we all feel this way, why don’t we say it?
The guilt I felt in the 1st few months will never leave me. There’ll always be a part of me that feels massively ashamed. I felt guilty that I didn’t know how to soothe my crying baby within milliseconds. I felt guilty that I didn’t know how to read his mind. I felt guilty that I struggled to wake four times a night for feeds. I felt guilty that I wanted to cry so much. I felt guilty for feeling so scared. I felt guilty that I no longer had time to listen to my husband. I felt guilty for giving birth when I so clearly wasn’t equipt. I felt guilty because sometimes I found it hard to smile. I felt guilty because I was, so clearly, a million miles away from the Mary Poppins Mother I’d dreamt of being. On the whole, I felt guilty because I was the only one feeling like this. I looked at other mothers, I saw the way the beamed and glowed. I felt low and anxious that I’d never be like them. I looked at other mothers and saw the way the looked at me. I immediately believed that they’d guessed my secret, they knew how utterly weak I was.
With my second child, I vowed that I’d do things
completely differently. I wanted, because I knew the score by now, to be in control. When she arrived 9 weeks early, I was thrust into a new turmoil. Yet again, I missed my movie moment of feeling her against my chest (I had her for 30 seconds and we did cry this time, through joy that she was breathing). I thought that when she came home, I’d take over from the NICU nurses and be exactly what she wanted/needed. Yet again, I found myself pacing the floor at times unable to satisfy her and doubting myself.

It took me three weeks to fully adjust to Motherhood. That was, three weeks of making myself Ill with torture. Don’t get me wrong, and I know you’ll understand me, I LOVED my babies. I loved them so much that my heart would literally beat outside of my chest. The worry and anxiety I felt was all BECAUSE I loved them more that I’d ever known possible. The pressure I put on myself was all because I wanted to be the very best for them. It took me three weeks to learn that these feelings were normal, that many new mothers feel exactly that same as I did. It’s taken me a full year to say this out loud. And even now, I know there’ll be some who judge me. Some who will never understand because they never felt that way. I envy them but only for their ‘perfect’ transition. A full year on and I’m confident in my abilities. I hold my head high (even throughout the tantrums) and KNOW that I’m good. My children are happy, they’re blessed with a loving home. Their laughter and smiles reassure me that I’m on track and…eventually…I can say ‘it’s okay, I’ve got this’.