The things I know now

I feel that the last few weeks have been filled with a lot of pregnancy and birth announcements. It has been a wonderful thing filling my social media timelines, and has  made me reminisce about my pregnancy, and the time since Noah was born. So I thought I would share some little pearls of wisdom and experiences that I have gained, now I am 18months into the game of life as a parent.

During Pregnancy

IMG_1621

  • Morning sickness is a lie. I had bad sickness, and it wasn’t just contained to the morning hours. All day sickness is a good term. Also I think that it was mostly in my head, I had not had any pregnancy symptoms really (don’t know what made my friends think I was because I wasn’t convinced!) as soon as I got the positive pregnancy test the morning sickness followed suit, as if my physical awareness of my pregnancy brought on the symptoms. There is loads of ways that people cure or ease their sickness, for me it was Ritz crackers, salted Walkers french fries crisps or a couple of ginger nut biscuits to nibble on the moment I had opened my eyes in the morning.
  • I wish that I had properly admired my feet. Eventually you bump gets to a stage where you can no longer see your feet when you are standing up. And then the feet you know turn into little hooves which you prop onto furniture to alleviate some of the swelling.I also wished I had treated myself to a pedicure, when you feel like a beached whale the small things really matter, and for some reason while I was in labour I felt a little disappointed my toes were not pretty.
  • Nesting is a real thing. It takes over your mind, this absolute desire for everything to be perfect for this tiny human that you are busy growing. I had never done so much washing or dusting in my life till those last few weeks of pregnancy, or since!
  • A birth plan is a really good thing to write but try not to write it in stone. Unfortunately babies have minds of their own, I couldn’t do what I wanted on my birth plan, Noah was so far down in my pelvis that I couldn’t lift my legs to get into the birthing pool, so we had to scrap that idea and I stood in the middle of the room breathing through my contractions. Writing my birth plan was the best thing for me though, I felt super informed about the options I wanted but also about the options available to me if what I wanted couldn’t happen for any reason.

The First Year and Beyond.

noahglasses

  • The first rush of love in unbelievable. As a person you think you know love, but the love that hits you is like running full pelt into a speeding bus, it almost hurts how much you love this little person, how much you will do for them, the lengths you will go to protect them. As you are hit but the love bus you know that it is totally worth it.
  • With the first rush of love is a tiny bit of terror. I started thinking ‘who decided that I can look after this creature?’. When do I have to take my test like I had to when they made me responsible for a car or a bicycle? You will doubt you can do this, the future is all laid out in this little person, and as they grow and you reach milestones you start to believe in yourself a little more each time.
  • Over packing is something that will happen every time you have to go anywhere. Just popping down the shops? Cue a changing bag filled with a weeks worth of clothes, snacks for a small army if you have a baby that is weaned or a toddler, all the toys and baby entertainment devices you can cram into your bag, on top of something to protect your child from every kind of weather. You will only use about 25% of what you will take with you anywhere, yet its is also sods law that you will ‘pack light’ (if that is even possible!) and need everything you usual pack.
  • Every time you think your child has reached maximum cuteness, they knock you flat with the next dose of cute. Dare I say it some moments are even better than those puppy and kitten videos on YouTube.
  • Terrible twos can happen at any time. Noah has slid into them and every day is me trying to precariously balance around his emotions so that he doesn’t spiral into hysteria, however that is not always possible so you just have to learn to go with it. I’m pretty sure, Noah and I have only just scratched the surface of this confusing, conflicting stage and that it will get worse, however I know that after every tantrum, every crying episode that Noah will always come back for a hug whether I gather him up or he spontaneously hugs my legs (which melts me into a puddle of emotions) and I know that we are good, if only for a few minutes.

These are only a few pearls that I have gathered. If I were to sit down and go through everything that having Noah has taught me about myself, and all the things I am learning about him, we would all be here for days. Every day is a new learning experience, a new curve ball to try and catch, and new day to realise the love you feel is overflowing. Are there any you agree or disagree with, or are there any experiences I have missed that you feel are a poignant part of being a parent?

Ready for Spring

So its been a while since I last sat down to write a blogpost. Not a lot has happened in the past month, apart from illness running rife in our household. We have gone through everything, from the common cold through to Hand, Foot and Mouth in Noah’s case.

With the prevailing illnesses in our home, and the drugery that winter brings, I have been so excited for that first foray into the warmer months. I love winter, how everything goes into a ‘sleep’ of sorts, Autumn (or Fall) is my favourite season, its just magical how all the leaves change colour, and all the smells of wood burning from bonfire night. I love those cosy seasons, the ones which conjure up a warm feeling right in the middle of my chest. However the long dark days, and sometimes the absolutely awful weather make even my most favourite seasons feel like they are closing in on me, and in the last couple of weeks I totally lost all motivation and drive.

I didn’t want to write, I didn’t want to go out. I even stopped really caring about exercising and eating well. I just wanted to hide in a little bubble with Noah, one where we would lie on the sofa watching Toy Story movies over and over again.

However this morning was totally different. I woke up with a renewed motivation. I woke up to the sun dancing across my ceiling and the sounds of birds in the trees. It was warm enough today that I decided Noah and I would take a walk while running errands. I didn’t wear a coat, only a light cardi (oh my I’ve turned into my mother!)  and I broke out the sunglasses.

I never really thought that the weather would have an impact on my mood, but the change has been astounding. There has been a to-d0 list as long as my arm and I have spent this afternoon clearing it off. I went for a walk down to my back garden and stood there discussing with Noah what we are going to do the jungle to turn it into a garden. My windows are open and my house fills full of clean air.

Happy Spring to you all. Take this new season a a fresh start. Like all the plants and trees that find new life, find something to inspire and motivate you this month.

Sensational SensatioNail

Once you have sashayed over the pre-parenthood line, from having all the time in the world, to having every second completely commandeered by your small human, certain things get left by the wayside, like manicures, pedicures, getting my hair coloured and blow dried, showering regularly (surely not just me?)

  Jokes aside ( I do shower regularly!) I used to love getting my nails done, and in the 16 months since my little boy has graced my life, I’ve found the time to do it once. I used to be regimental about my nails being done, infills every 2 weeks, removal and replacement once a month. This was because for six years I had been in a job which hadn’t allowed me to wear any kind of nail enhancements, so I was in my element when I could finally get it done.

Not only do I not have two spare hours to spend sitting in a nail shop, the cost I cannot justify, not when I now run my own home, any spare money is money to be saved.

I wanted a way to paint my nails where I wouldn’t spend hours not able to touch anything for fear of smudging the fresh paint, was quick and easy to apply, and was relatively cheap, well relative to £20-£50 per time nail application (depending on where I went).

A few Christmases ago my Sister and I were gifted a SensatioNail by Nailene Starter kit from our Dad. It is a UV Gel polish system to use at home. I used it a few times, but while I could still get my nails done I wasn’t too interested in spending time doing my nails myself.

starterkit

However this kit since having Noah has really come into its own. I love it so much. It’s quick and easy. There is absolutely no chance of me smudging my nails, and I can get on with my day straight away. There is a great range of colours avaliable, which is good for someone like me who likes to change things up regularly. The kit is also kind to my nails, they have been stronger since using the kit, and the gel polish is really easy to take off.

The kit is so easy to use, it came with easy step by step instructions on how, and when, to use each of the products in the kit, we also had two nail polishes and two Glitter FX puffers (only the gold pictured below), and the UV lamp required to cure the polishes.

nailkit

uvlamp

I love how quick it is to do my nails now, I can quickly do my nails during Noah’s nap time, which would have been a brave undertaking and would have most certainly lead to smudging had I used regular polish. Now I can even change a nappy straight after application without worrying about ruining my nails and that’s sensational.

hand
Vanilla Chai polish with Gold Glitter FX

This post is not sponsored, any opinions are my own.

Finally Ready

IMG_1282

The image above is what has spurred on this blog post. I have started this post several times, I have slammed the lid of my laptop in frustration of not being able to find the words but really wanting to share this journey I have been on.

SO you may ask what does some sun in the trees mean in terms of a blog post, well let me explain…

I took this photo on a walk home through the park with my little boy, even though it was not particularly warm, the sun was streaming through the trees. As Noah was asleep, walking through the park gave me some thinking space to myself. Looking at the view it reminded me of spring, the warmth of the sun on my face with a slight chill in the air, of things coming to life and changing after time in hibernation. That is what I have been doing, working on myself, changing myself, and now I’m ready to come out of hiding and share it with everyone.

Before any of my lovely family and friends say you don’t need to change, I do. Since having Noah, I have ruined the health of my body, I became ashamed of what I had done to myself, through lack of respect, bad eating and zero exercise. I was most ashamed of the fact that, before I had Noah, I had lost a lot of weight and had taken real pride in how looked. Obviously pregnancy changes a woman’s body, which I fully take into account, but after given birth to Noah, I fell back into really bad habits, secret eating, several snacks a day which were definitely not healthy based, making excuses not to do any exercise (I’m tired, I’m recovering after having Noah, I don’t have time).

2014-01-14 21.29.21
Me before pregnancy

This went on for months, my health declined, and so did my general opinion of myself worth.

Then during a mother and baby class, we had a group talk from a lovely lady from Crawley Wellbeing, to give us some simple healthy eating tips, and ways to start getting active. At the end of the group session we were offered the chance to join Crawley Wellbeing, and have a full body composition done, on some very snazzy scales called “Tanita”. I took this opportunity because for me I had reached the end of my tether with myself. It was time for change.

I started in April 2015, I had the Tanita body composition check, and got the shock of my life. I had put on 4 stone on my pre-pregnancy weight. I had put it in a two stone ballpark, but reading those measurements was a shock, and made me realise I really needed to try and get my health back under control.

Pictures
Me at my heaviest 18st 8lbs

During my meeting with Crawley Wellbeing, I was offered the choice to join a Weight off Workshop (or WOW) I jumped at the chance, though I didn’t eventually go down this route I was offered another alternative, I was just looking for a little direction and help with how to change my lifestyle.

When it came to signing up for the WOW, I was sent the forms for that course, or for a more intensive group called Why Weight. This is usually only available for people who are thinking about bariatric surgery, I am not going to have surgery, but my BMI meant I was a candidate. I chose this route because it felt more personal reading through the pamphlet, rather than a class where I felt I could hide in a group.

This group has changed my life completely. I have worked on my relationship to food with counselors and dietitians, in terms of emotions, and why I reach for food at certain times, sometimes without thinking or realising, using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to change the way I interact with food and learning what a portion size really is. I also have been seeing a exercise coach who gives me tips and helps me find the direction I want to go with exercise so I don’t get bored, and so I can also make it work with my life as a single parent.

At the time I write this I can’t tell you what I weigh exactly, I get weighed once month by my dietitian, in my previous appointment on the 25th of January I weighed 17 st 4lbs. I’m not ashamed of the numbers anymore because I know they are numbers on the way to a new me, a healthy me.

I know size and numbers don’t make a healthy person on their own, but for me I need to work on them. I need to bring my BMI down ( my blood pressure is tip top, no complaints there), I need to make my lifestyle healthy so I can show Noah how to eat right, how to fuel his body properly, and not just turn to eating because he feels emotional and wants it for comfort.

Before I round up this blog post, I want to say to anyone that is looking to lose weight or change their lifestyle, that you need to learn to love yourself first. I didn’t start my weight-loss journey at a point where I loved myself, I hated what I saw in the mirror, and was stuck in an awful spiral where I nurtured that hurt with food. I have reached that point though, because if I don’t learn to love myself as I am right now, I will never have the respect to give my body what it needs, and accept the changes that happen.

I am going to keep you all updated during my weight-loss, the ups and downs, and any techniques that I have used. I am not professing to know all the answers, I have muddled through the last 9 months and have fallen off the figurative horse and got back on it again, but now I feel in place that I feel confident and motivated. I will welcome any tips you have or any healthy meals, I will be sharing a few with you too in future posts.

Lastly if you made it to the end of this biopic and you wish to contact Crawley Wellbeing for a Wellbeing Check and take a turn standing on Tanita for your body composition here is a link: Wellbeing Check

Starting a little late…

2016

happyface

I’m starting my first blog post of the year a little late. I have reached the blogger-sphere behind all the “New Year- New Me” posts, the plans and resolutions for how the rest of the year will pan out. Yet I’m okay with this.

My first post was always going to be a little late. The beginning of January brings a whole load more celebration, not just the New Year festivities, but my birthday (week) and my dads birthday. I was focusing on spending those special days with my family and friends.

Then I had found time to settle down and get myself sorted. I did want to have more of a plan when it came to my writing. There is so much more about myself that I want to pour into my writing and this year is going to be about exploring that. Asking You as my readers to give me feedback on which content works and what content falls flat. I treated myself to some beautiful notebooks from Next, and got myself straight onto planning different posts, and themes that I want to explore.

I then took some time for myself after receiving some awful, completely unexpected news, which was shocking for myself and many others. I didn’t feel like I could sit down behind a screen and write a happy dappy blog post, when all I was feeling was a little lost. I lost motivation in a few areas, I have been very slowly trying to change my lifestyle into a healthier one, something that I want Noah to follow. I want him to learn my good habits, rather than my habit for food binges and bad choices when choosing food that really isn’t going to fuel my body. I fell back into a bad eating pattern, didn’t want to exercise, or try and hit any of my personal daily goals.

Now I have found my motivation, I have given myself time and space mentally and physically, to try and rein in my mind which felt as if I had scattered it into the wind. I now sit behind this computer screen so excited to write again. I have so many plans for this year, and I cannot wait to share them with you all.

So here’s to the rest of the year.

The First Year

We made it

I made it

Before I tell you all about how the first year went I want to write a little thank you for all my friends and family for all their unfaltering help during this last year. I thank you all, from the small (entertaining Noah for a few moments while I used the bathroom), to the big (letting me and Noah interrupt your sleep patterns and lives while we lived under your roof), and everything else in between from you lovely lovely people.

I’m going to be honest…

This past year has been hard. The hardest year I have experienced. The thing about parenthood is it really doesn’t come with a manual. The midwife doesn’t hand over your little bundle, with a step by step instruction booklet. I feel like I have completely muddled through this year. At times I felt like I was finally getting the hang of things, I had a great routine down to an art form, feeling confident and happy, and then BAM I felt like a fog had fallen over my eyes, I don’t know my up from my down, and I’m crawling around on my hands and knees trying to make sense of my little world.

On the other hand there are so many moments that make all of the tough times, the lack of sleep, the constant eau de vomit (in our case, not every baby is that bad), so unbelievably worth it.

 Noah has done so well in his first year. Crawling was achieved by 8 months, but he didn’t seem too keen in progressing any further, which was totally okay with me, I was in no hurry for him to progress any quicker. Noah had other plans and very quickly went from pulling himself up on furniture and any available legs, to cruising on every surface at the right height, to taking his first steps by 11 month. Now Noah is learning how to master stairs, up and down, which means I have never been more grateful for the impenetrable stair gate, that manages to keep out children and adults. While I am only just coming to terms that I have a totally mobile child, who even runs sometimes ( well it would be a light jog for an adult, but when you are that small, its like hitting super speed), and Noah is taking it all in his stride (literally).

There is so much more of Noah’s first year that I could go over, but every minute of everyday, Noah masters something or does something that gets an emotional response from me (some of those moments do not always garner happy emotions), there are so many that it would take forever to write them down, but also these moments that are stored away are mine. Noah has started taking his own little footprint steps into the lives of others like, going to nursery and becoming more brave with friends and family, these little foot prints are the end of his absolute dependency on me, as he slowly becomes his own person, and those moments are mine to reflect on.

Today has been a hard day, it was a good day, then Noah melted into this screaming puddle of toddler for a whole evening. It makes it hard to remember what makes the day good, I was stressed close to tears trying to console Noah. Finally we made it to bedtime, and for now, he is fast asleep. I’m sitting here remembering the day, and slowly the good moments flood back in, those more recent and those that I have stored away. Noah, this afternoon, at his best friends 1st birthday and all the great interaction he has with children and adults. Signing Thank You for inviting him to the birthday party to the Hosts. Having breakfast this morning,  with Noah and Roma at Harvester and how well behaved Noah was. The smaller moments, that I have squirreled away into my memory, like when he comes over to me and puts his head to my head or on my leg and says “Ahhhh” which is his hug/kiss, or when he finally mastered how to say “mam mam mam”.

I would never change this past year. Not for all the money in the world. I have a beautiful little boy. We moved into our first home, which I adore. I found my strong base of friends and family. I rekindled friendships that I know this time around will last a lifetime. These things are what I (try) to remember when Noah is taking me to the edge of total madness, before pulling me back from the edge with his unprompted laughter, or a head butt kiss, or walking over to me with his most favourite book to share together.

Bring on the next year.

Finding My Feet

The last time that I published a post was June 1st!

That doesn’t mean that I haven’t start to write and then scrapped the post whilst in draft.

I had hit serious writers block. I really enjoy doing my blog, but I have started to feel that I have slightly limited myself with the content that I want to post about.

Even though I love to talk, write, sing, shout from the rooftops, everything I want to share with people about Noah.

He is not the only thing I am passionate about (although he does take the top spot) in my life, or want to share.

I have decided that I am going to start writing about what I want when it suits me. I won’t force myself to work to a deadline, or to a set amount of posts per week, month or year.

I want to be able to enjoy writing again.

I want to write product review posts about the glorious products that fill my life. I want to share with you the ups and downs of weight loss and getting healthy.

Obviously I’m not going to share everything that happens in my life, yet for me to fully write about motherhood I need to branch out to fully embrace what my life is about.

Everything that makes me, me.

SO

Watch this space, I have a post on the go which will be published shortly, it’s just a very brave post for me to write about, but all will be revealed shortly.

Battle to be Brave

bear hunt

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt…

We’re NOT Scared.

This book was one of my favourite childhood stories.

Those words above, iconic words shouted with glee and gusto during “calm” and “quiet” pre-bedtime stories, have become my mantra as a mother.

I may not actually be hunting for bears (though Noah would look super cute in a fur lined Trapper hat) but like the characters in the story, I face some obstacles I don’t feel I can get over, or under and I just have to get through them.

Sometimes even basic endeavours, with Noah, can seem like a massive task, mostly because I’m doing them on my own, and all the responsibility falls to me. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are many situations which are just as daunting for two parents to tackle. Having a baby is hard, not only do you have to get used to the demands of this little person, and then find balance with a schedule, you still have to carry on with life. But not having another parent to help you can sometimes feel a little as though you are struggling against the tide.

For a long time I was scared of going out of the house. Then one day I told myself enough was enough. If I got myself stuck into this little world, where only Noah and I exist, I would never achieve anything. So I went for a walk. Only around the local area close to my house, and only for about half an hour. Of course someone was on hand to rescue me, Noah and the pushchair at a moments notice, but I didn’t need saving, because I knew if I was “saved” then it would set me back into my little world of not going out.

All the time I went on this walk, that lasted all of about 30 minutes, I was saying in my head, “We’re going in a bear hunt… We’re not scared.” It really helped to calm me, and keep me from having a freak out. Some would contest that it was the rhythm of the words, rather than the words themselves, which could be true. It worked though, and those words stuck.

Those words became especially handy when I took Noah to the baby weight clinic for the first time. I got to the family centre, and joined the waiting room filled with parents and children. I could already feel the first fingers of anxiety trying to pull me under. Eventually Noah’s name was called and we went to the room, I got Noah weighed, and my health visitor came over to ask how I was getting on. Then it happened. I burst into tears, it had all become too much. Noah had started to cry, and suddenly I didn’t feel like I could cope anymore. My lovely health visitor calmed me down, helped me stem my streaming eyes and (embarrassingly) my nose, and help me re-dress my little man. We sat and talked for a while, and she reassured me I was doing well and could cope. I soon felt better, and felt like I could leave. I got to the front of the family centre, and was placing Noah in his pushchair, when i was gripped again by fear, this time instead of not wanting to be at the centre, I wanted to not leave. This place had kind people who could help me, as soon as I walked out the door I would be on my own again.

Then the words from the story popped into my head, and I said them over and over to myself, as I walked to the car and drove home.

I eventually branched out to do things with friends, meeting for coffee, going shopping, spending longer away from the warm safe cocoon I had been building. All the time saying the words from book, in my head, whenever I felt like it got too much.

People say not to put too much pressure on myself, I don’t have to do anything I feel uncomfortable doing.

I know this, but I feel that if i don’t push myself out of my comfort zone, I won’t achieve anything, I wouldn’t have gone to baby groups, and made new friends with other parents. I want to go on holiday in the future, just me and Noah. So I need to push myself now. Get myself somewhat used to being in new situations, with Noah in tow, and being able to cope.

People who know me well, know that I can come across as so confident, yet under this bravado is a scared person who is assessing everybody in every new social situation, and that it puts a lot of stress on me.

I’ve kept trying, and kept pushing those boundaries, and the other day I spent the day in London with Noah. I went there to meet an old work colleague and introduce her to Noah and Noah to her. It was such a lovely day, and I was pleased with myself for being able to cope, with only a small bit of anxiety creeping in when 1) I wasn’t sure how I was going to get Noah in the pushchair off the train at our stop ( two lovely men lifted him off for me) 2) wasn’t sure I was going to get back home before Noah went into full meltdown (he was tired and fed up of being in his pushchair for most of the day). Even though me and Noah went up there and it was successful (in a baptism of fire I might add, think FA Cup final, drunk crowded trains, and the end of half term, families lots and lots of families) I know I wouldn’t have gone if I wasn’t going to meet someone up there.

I know that I can do it now, and the obvious next step for me is to go on a day out, and not be meeting someone, and manage it on my own. However I don’t mind saving that Bear Hunt for another time, because like the book I don’t want to come face to face with a “Bear” that I feel I cannot cope with and have to run for the safety of my “bedcovers”, before resolutely declaring,

We’re not going on a bear hunt again“.