Category Archives: Lists

You are everything

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You are everything

Dear Daddy,

I know I’m only 11 months old but I dictated this post to Mummy. I’m quite advanced. It’s our first Father’s Day together so I wanted to tell you some things.

You are very funny

Mummy pretends you’re not as funny as you are. But I think you are hilarious! I hope when I’m all growed up you still make me giggle.

You are my protector

You might think I don’t remember but I know you snuggled me in the night when I wasn’t very well after my injections. When I had a temperature I know you sat up straight, uncomfortable with me heavy on your chest, just because it meant I’d rest and get better. I already know that you’ll be there to keep me safe in every situation you can be, even when I’m bigger and stronger enough to look after myself.

You are cheeky like me

I know I’m not supposed to laugh and throw my pasta around the kitchen, but it makes such a good noise when it splats on the floor! Mummy sometimes looks like she’s going to laugh but tries not to because apparently it’s ‘naughty’ to throw my food, but you always smile – I can’t wait to keep being cheeky with you and making Mummy laugh.

 You know so much stuff

You’ve already told me all about rugby and how we’re going to go and watch games when I’m big enough. I feel like you know all sorts of things that you can teach me – like what superhero is the best, how to count, what songs are good and how to dance. Mummy says you dance ‘like an Essex boy’ – maybe you can teach me all about Essex too.

You’re the only you

Like Tigger, the most wonderful thing about you is that you’re the only one. You’re my only Daddy. I am so glad that I got you when they gave daddies out. You’re exactly what I need, when I need it. I’m so excited about all the adventures we’ll have together with Mummy and I hope today, we can have loads of family cuddles.

By the way, Mummy ordered your present. I think she’s done a good job but if you don’t like it, I didn’t do it. I don’t have a debit card. Silly Daddy.

Andrew Ada Eynsford 2018

I still love to snuggle!

Lots of love,

A xxx

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Smashing sexism…one babygrow at a time

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Smashing sexism…one babygrow at a time

So here’s the thing. I’m not a feminist activist. I’ve never been to a march or staged a protest. But I do feel very strongly that women and their bodies are nobody’s business but their own; that women can be whatever the hell they want to be (except a serial killer. That’s never advisable); and that the female figure is an incredibly powerful one in life, love, the family, the workplace and beyond. I’ve just never done anything about it in a public or vocal way.

Perhaps I’m not so bothered about myself. I’m already in my 30s, I’ve determined what I want in life and for now at least, I’m happy with the job I’ve worked to be good at, with the role I play within my friends and family network; and I surround myself with people who respect me as an individual, regardless of my gender. Having a daughter, however, has turned me into a defensive lioness.

When she was only a few weeks old, we were in the supermarket when an elderly woman began talking to us in the queue. After a moment of chit chat she asked ‘How old is he?’. It’s an easy mistake and I’m not offended by it, so I responded, ‘It’s a she and she’s 8 weeks old.’ Her reply? ‘A girl? Why have you put trousers on her?!’. She huffed off once she paid for her goods, clearly disgusted at my modern ways. Now while I know this is partly a generational thing, the pink/blue divide is huge when it comes to babies and children.

Clothes

I love a bright pink t shirt or pretty dress as much as the next person, but as a couple we also love dinosaurs (move over Ross Gellar) and superheroes and the colours blue and green. With that in mind we’ve regularly ignored the boy/girl signage and purchased what we like, not what little girls ‘should’ wear. I was delighted when John Lewis got rid of their boy and girl labels and established a simple ‘John Lewis baby’ brand, leaving the choice about who wears it up to the parents. Our daughter has proudly worn wonderwoman outfits, a Flash babygrow, flowery dresses, a dinosaur sleepsuit, a Disney princess all-in-one and several Harry Potter outfits (for that I can only apologise, my love). Funnily enough they didn’t come with the word ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ emblazoned on the front and she looked equally adorable in all of them.

Toys

It was only recently on a trip to a well-known chain of toy shops, that I noticed that the ‘action and adventure’ section was entirely blue – the walls, the signage, the shelves; and the ‘arts and crafts’ and dolls section was bright pink. Perhaps I simply need to reclaim the colours as non-gender specific in my head, but it seemed pretty sexist that the traditionally feminine, arty toys should be for girls and the more aggressive, masculine toys for boys. Perhaps our daughter will love wrestling and racing cars. Perhaps she will indeed have a dolly and a pram and will enjoy painting and crafting. Either way, I’d imagine some children would feel awkward and even intimidated walking into the section aimed at the opposite sex, just because they don’t fit the traditional gender moulds for their interests.

And so…

I guess my point is this. If you have a little girl who loves tutus and dollies and jewellery making, great. If you have a little boy who loves wrestling toys and superheroes and cars, great. If you have a little girl who loves rugby and Star Wars and Pokemon, support her; a little boy who wants to play in a toy kitchen, watch My Little Pony and wear a dress-up princess dress, support him too.

Basically, let’s take gender out of it and just let them do what they enjoy.

The things I want to remember

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The things I want to remember

Dear daughter,

Already time is moving so fast. You are nearly 21 weeks old, that’s almost 5 months and not far off half a year. While I’m fortunate to be taking nine months off work, I’m over the halfway point. You change every day – some nights I’m certain you’ve grown in your sleep.

In the blink of an eye you’ll be slamming doors and screaming at me about your terribly unfair life. With that in mind (and, frankly, because mummy and daddy have been pretty rubbish at filling in any kind of memory/baby book), here are the things I want to remember…

  • The way your face lights up when I tell you ‘Good morning beautiful girl’ and get you from your crib
  • The way your little hand curls around my finger while I feed you your bottle
  • The way you stop crying almost instantly when you’re with a stranger and they pass you back to me
  • The look on your face when your daddy gets home
  • You and Daddy having a cuddle
  • The sound of you babbling to yourself in the middle of the night
  • Your huge smile when Daddy suggests it’s time for ‘splash, splash, splash’ (bath time)
  • The pride on your face when you found your feet for the first time
  • The pride your daddy and I felt the first time you held your head up properly during tummy time
  • The smell of you straight out of the bath
  • The heaviness of your head on my arm when you fall asleep during a snuggle
  • The sound of your first proper laugh
  • The way you screeched like a dinosaur and grinned madly during a choir’s rendition of ‘All I want for Christmas is You’
  • How much you enjoy us singing ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’ and ‘If you’re happy and you know it’
  • Your tired eyes
  • Your chubby little legs
  • Your fluffy duckling hair as it grows.

Mainly, I want to remember how grateful I am for every last thing about you – every day isn’t shiny and wonderful and I’m certain we have numerous hard days together to come. But you are the star I wished upon, the dream I was scared wouldn’t come true, and the very best thing that has ever happened to us. Please, when I’ve driven you mad with my rules and you think you hate me; read this and remember how very loved you are, and have always been.

Love Mummy xxx

The arrival and the aftermath

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So it’s taken a while to share this here, but our little bundle finally made an appearance!

Only 3 days late, little miss R arrived on 8 July after something of a tricky labour, by emergency C-section. She’s happy and healthy and we’ve spent the last 5 weeks adjusting to life as a family of three.

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She’s absolutely beautiful, and as anyone who has read my blog previously will know, very much wanted; but life as new parents is tough and I wanted to share a few of our lessons.

Before I do, I also wanted to say a very specific thank you. We attended NCT classes prior to having our daughter and it was the best thing we ever did. Not only for the information and guidance, but for the new parent network we’ve since developed. My husband has a group of new dads to talk dad-stuff with, and for me, I’ve got a group of newbie mums muddling along the same way I am.

To those girls – thank you. For the 3am Whatsapp company, the reassurance that my boobs, tears, baby (insert other paranoid concern here) are in fact, normal and nothing to worry about. For the banter, the memes, the TMI, the giggles and the compassion.

I’ve included your pearls of wisdom below. They’ve got me through the last few weeks and I have no doubt you’ll continue to be awesome in the months and years to come.

It’s OK if it’s crap sometimes

I know. I’m a terrible mother. I should be beatifically smiling and glowing because I have a gorgeous little bundle of joy. Only she isn’t always joyous, and I’m not always smiling. Between hormones and sleep deprivation and that piercing newborn cry, it can be bloody hard work. You’ll cry, you’ll get fed up, you’ll yearn for your pre-baby life sometimes. I categorically ADORE my little girl. But that doesn’t mean I don’t find motherhood a challenge.

NCT advice: It’s all a phase. Babies go through growth spurts and developmental leaps and changes all the time. Breathe, and remember things will get better soon – this bad day is not forever.

Don’t hate the mirror, hate the game

I hate how I look right now. After a C-section I have what I’m affectionately calling ‘the overhang’. I have stretch marks. I have a permanent scar. I have weird boobs that don’t feel like my own. I rarely have time for make-up. My hair is super-fluffy and uncontrollable. My clothes all make me look like a sausage that’s about to burst out of its skin. The numbers on the scales are far too high for my liking. On top of the sleep deprivation and hormones (see point 1) it makes me want to cry daily.

NCT advice: It took 9 months for your body to grow that baby, give yourself a break and a chance to find your new shape. You won’t look the same anymore – you grew a small human. Be proud of that, and let yourself take time to recover and renew. Happy and healthy is the important thing.

Fed is best

There is so much wonderful advice and support out there for breastfeeding mothers. And on the whole, it’s really well-intentioned and really helpful. However, in some cases there is a fine line between support and pressure. My daughter took her sweet time to regain her birth weight. Cue worried noises from the health visitor, despite her behaviour, nappies etc all pointing towards a very healthy little lady. I therefore trundled off to a number of breastfeeding support groups and followed advice about latching (which she was fine at), positioning (no, I do not want to try to hold my daughter like a rugby ball in the middle of the night), and lactation aids (imagine McDonalds straws taped to your boobs, next to your nipples while you wear a bottle of formula/expressed milk around your neck like a cowbell). She still didn’t gain weight, so I continued to breastfeed (no cowbell contraption – I drew the line) and topped up with  a small bottle of formula after each feed. She put on 10.5oz in a week.

NCT advice: Breast is great, and if it works for you to exclusively breastfeed, seriously well done because it’s not easy and it’s a brilliant thing to do. But honestly? Fed is best. Our NCT group feed a variety of formula, combination and breastfeeding and all of our babies are thriving.

Trust your gut

Nope, not another reference to my post-baby body but a seriously important point. You will receive soooooo much advice from people – family, friends, professionals. And unfortunately, it won’t all tally up. You’ll feel lost in a sea of feeding on demand, co-sleeping, poo-splosions, bottles, colic, wind, soothing, dummies and more. Everyone knows what’s best for your baby…except they don’t.

NCT advice: In the immortal words of one of the NCT girls, Mammy and Daddy know best.  Do what feels right – pick and choose the advice that feels like the best thing for your child and your family. As long as your child is fed, rested, safe and healthy – you’re doing it right.

 

So to any sleep deprived, tearful, bemused new parents reading this, you’re doing an ace job. Stop beating yourself up – look at your little one and remember why you did this. Think about all the ‘firsts’ you have to look forward to – the first smile, the first laugh, the first steps, the first birthday and Christmas, starting school. You have a million happy moments ahead of you and you will get through this period like a champ – you have an army of parents behind you, cheering you on and holding you up.

Weirdly and wonderfully ‘with child’

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Weirdly and wonderfully ‘with child’

Pregnancy is such a odd time. Millions of women have written or spoken about ‘the things no-one tells you’, so this is just general rambling about some of the very weird (and often wonderful) things I’ve experienced since being pregnant.

1 Random touching

This one’s well documented, but I have had the most bizarre selection of people just stroke my stomach without so much as a ‘how are you?’.

If I encountered someone who told me their eye surgery had gone well, I wouldn’t stroke my hand over their eyes in a ‘go to sleep’ style movement; nor would any other sane person. And yet, apparently, baby bumps are exempt from this general rule of touching etiquette.

I’m certain all mums feel the same, but I’m incredibly protective of the bump. It’s precious, and ours, and (and this is, you’d imagine, the most obvious point) part of my body. Please ask before you reach out to touch it (particularly if I barely know you in the first place). And if I say no, regardless of how well you know me, please accept that it’s based on how I’m feeling, not you.

2 Friendly faces

Since being noticeably pregnant, people have been so kind. I dropped my parking ticket the other day, but before I could begin the slow descent (and inevitably difficult ascension back to full height), a random stranger had picked it up for me with an understanding smile.

Various retail staff have asked when the baby’s due and finished our transaction with a ‘congratulations’ or ‘good luck’.

People smile at me more – pregnant women in particular have been very un-British and actually made eye contact and started conversations in waiting rooms. It was a little disconcerting at first, if I’m honest.

3 Everyone knows better

As first time parents, we’re under no illusions – we have lots to learn, and no matter how organised, we’ll never be ready for the huge change that’s coming. Nonetheless, we didn’t emerge from an alien pod only days ago with no knowledge of the human family.

We’re certainly not too proud to ask for help or advice, but when we describe the midwife’s most recent observations/guidance, we don’t expect a random relative or friend to launch into an unasked-for and opinionated diatribe about how the midwife is wrong. They are, of course, human and susceptible to mistakes, but they’re also the experts.

Every pregnancy is different, everyone’s medical history is different, and guidance and advice changes annually – my midwife knows both me, our baby, and the up to date clinical guidance best.

4 Sticks and stones

Your throwaway observation that ‘Ooooh I was much bigger than you by this point, haven’t you got a small bump?’ brought me to tears later that day. It weighed on my mind, had me googling like a good’un, and worrying that my much-wanted baby wasn’t growing right. All this, despite knowing from regular midwife appointments that things are right on track.

I know that nothing is meant maliciously, but just think about the impact on an anxious, tired, hormone-ridden first time mum before casually declaring that their pregnancy is noticeably abnormal (in your humble opinion). Instead, tell them they’re looking good, ask how long they’ve got left, share your funny pregnancy stories.

5 Love and understanding

I recently went on a hen weekend in Liverpool. When we originally booked the weekend, I wasn’t yet pregnant. So despite loving the bride and wanting to be involved, a part of me was dreading being away from my husband for the weekend, and worrying about being boring and sober and tired, and a big fat burden on the other girls.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Women I’m close to but also women I’d never met before picked my suitcase up to carry it upstairs, gave up their seats, and checked on me. One of my fellow bridesmaids made sure soft drinks and mocktails were part of the activities she’d planned so I wasn’t left out, and I laughed and chatted and thoroughly enjoyed myself all weekend.

My point is, my worrying was unfounded. Throughout my pregnancy people have understood that I’m tired, not judged when we leave a meal/gathering/party earlier than we would have done a few months ago, but also continued to treat me like me.

So I guess, in summary:

  • Don’t touch me without asking (this is, you’d think, an obvious request)
  • The world is kinder than you think
  • Trust your instincts (and your midwife)
  • Be sensitive in your observations (and pregnant superheroes, try not to get too upset about clumsy comments)
  • Your people/tribe will always understand

 

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Dear baby…

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Dear baby…

Dear baby,

We’ve been so scared, your Mummy and Daddy. Last year was sad for us and you have been so very precious from the moment we found out about you.

Every milestone has felt like a huge achievement – you’re already the thing we’re most proud of and the most valuable thing in our lives. Mummy is a big worrier anyway, and she’s lost sleep, cried, refused to get excited (don’t be offended please, Mummy was just trying to be brave). She’s been the opposite of her normal self – so pessimistic and cautious. But now, halfway through your stay in Mummy’s tummy, we’re slowly letting ourselves smile and mean it. We’re talking about names, thinking about what we need to buy for you, how to decorate your room. You’ve become a part of us – you’ll make our family of two (plus Archer, your fur sibling), a family of three.

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But there are a couple of things you need to remember to help Mummy and Daddy be brave:

  1. Keep growing – get big and strong and ready for this big bad world you’re joining. Stay healthy and safe in there.
  2. Take care of Mummy – your kicks and roly-polys are already starting to provide reassurance to Mummy. It’s your way of saying ‘Hi there guys!’ and it’s  brilliant.
  3. You are not a rainbow baby – some people might talk about you as if you are. You are not. We will always be a little bit sad about what happened before you took root and decided to make Mummy your home. But it has nothing to do with you. From the moment we first saw that little nugget on the screen all those months ago, you started a whole new chapter for Mummy and Daddy, and we love you for it. Your job is not to fix us, your job is to simply be wonderful, beautiful you.

We can’t wait to meet you, to get to know you. We know we’ll be tired and grumpy and that it’s going to be hard work getting used to you, but you’re going to be worth every second.

All our love, already and always,

Mummy and Daddy xxx

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Things my dad has taught me

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Things my dad has taught me

So I’ve talked in the past about what we’ve learned along the way since my dad’s accident. But recently I’ve realised how much my dad himself has taught (and continues to teach) me. I thought I’d share a few of them, because after a bad meeting, or a traffic jam, or a family argument; it can feel like the end of the world but my dad has changed the way I look at life.

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff

The amount of times I’ve visited my dad after a busy and stressful day, only to walk out an hour later calm and smiling and wondering what my problem was. The things that were driving me to distraction suddenly didn’t seem important when faced with his daily struggles to even remember when to eat, or to turn the lights on when it gets dark.

  1. Keep laughing

From the moment he got his speech back, my dad has continued to be silly. I’ve said before that he’s always been silly – and one of my biggest fears was that he’d lose this sense of fun. Thankfully it’s remained, and has been the source of a series of Facebook posts like the following:

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  1. Be compassionate

My dad has every reason to be a grumpy, selfish, inconsiderate old bugger. But he’s the opposite. He notices when I’m tired. Asks what’s up if I’m quiet. Tells me to send love/congratulations/best wishes (insert greeting here) to various family members when I tell him their news. He asks how my mum is, my sister, my brother, his friends and listens when I give him updates about them. He reminds me to look outside my bubble. No matter how hard things are, it’s not OK to forget about other people.

  1. Be honest

Due to his condition, my dad doesn’t have as many inhibitions anymore. That means that sometimes, what’s in his head comes out of his mouth. Often, he realises as soon as it’s been vocalised that it was inappropriate or rude, but not before. Now, I know that it’s socially polite to frame your criticism constructively, to smile and hold the door for someone even if they do shove past you without a backwards glance; or to sit out a boring conversation in order to avoid offence. I’m not suggesting we all start spewing out exactly what’s on our minds all the time – it would be chaos and we’d cause hurt.

However, wouldn’t it be great if we could just take a leaf out of my dad’s book – just to now and then stand up when someone is only talking about themselves and walk off without a word?! To tell someone they’re being loud and it’s bothering you.

  1. Forgive

OK, so maybe in his case it’s more often than not that he doesn’t remember, rather than that he forgives. But my dad doesn’t hold grudges. And when I do have to tell him off, or I snap because frankly, I’m human and sometimes my patience wears thin; he forgives me instantly. He’s the one who apologises – he gives me a hug – reaches over to touch my arm to get my attention and says he loves me. Nothing matters enough to overshadow our precious time together. I wish I could be more like him and remember what really matters in our brief time on this planet with the people we love.

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