How far I’ve come…

Last night I sat breast feeding my four week old and watching The Devil Wears Prada.

I had been feeling pretty good – I’d managed a shower that morning and was wearing my Hollister trackies and hoodie, smug that they fit again. Yeah. That smugness was short-lived.

I trained and worked as a journalist, and while I never worked on a fashion mag, this movie had always struck a chord. The deadlines, the networking, the desire to exceed everyone’s expectations and try to look glamorous while doing it. Now here I was, mum of two, off work, looking forward to getting back into my exercise plan and shifting a stone of baby weight. “Andy”, the main character, was a sharp reminder of how far I had to go.

But as she had to bend further and further backwards to please her cruel boss, I found myself smiling. I was so far past that eager-to-please stage. I’d been there aged 26. I’d made myself ill over it. Eventually I’d snapped. handed in my notice and scared the shit out of my boss, who was left with two magazines editor-less. I’d set up my own business, gone on to have two beautiful children and was now a much wiser 32 year old. I may be a bit squishy round the middle but, in the words of Cheryl, “I don’t care”.

Coincidentally, I had also just popped in to the office to show off KD to my co-workers. They had been lovely; excited to meet him, complimentary and genuinely interested. The conversation had turned to when I was coming back and the projects that were waiting. They were nothing but supportive, so I didn’t have any guilt about taking the time away from work or feel any pressure to rush back. I know the time will come when I’ll want to get back to work – but for now I’m happy to relax into motherhood which, by the way, is a much harder job.

I can look forward to the time when fashion will matter again, when I’ll get a buzz from networking and hitting deadlines and exceeding expectations – but I know it will be on my terms. Just figuring that out has given me confidence. I can appreciate how much I’ve learned since those miserable days just before I handed in my notice. The challenge is to remember all this when I’m sleep-deprived, frizzy, trying to keep my patience with a truculent three year old while the baby cries and wondering how the hell I’m going to organise dinner…

Maybe I’ll just read this blog.

Figuring out what's really important...

Figuring out what’s really important…

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First days second time round

It feels like I’ve stepped through the looking glass again. Everything in my life is the same but different, altered by the arrival of our little KD.
My body, which appears recovered from the outside (I was discharged from the labour suite seven hours after giving birth) is still healing. It can only cope with one emotion at a time and I am rocked by the shifts. One minute all I can think about is how overpoweringly grateful I am, to God and the universe, for giving me a healthy baby boy. The next I am consumed with fury that the Wee Man should deliberately wet himself six times in one morning.
I feel exactly like I’m standing barefoot on the beach, each wave pulling more sand from under me, the sun and the thunder clouds fighting to decide what the weather should be.
I haven’t slept for longer than three hours for nearly three weeks now. The nights are foggy; KD looks for the boob every couple of hours, burps over my shoulder and sighs back to sleep, while I manoeuvre cushions and blankets and flop gratefully back onto my pillow.
And in those lucid hours after a daytime nap, when KD is still asleep in his bassinet and the Wee Man is at nursery, I look around my messy house, consider my air-dried hair and makeup-free face and think to myself: “Enjoy it, for this too shall pass.”

mummykimmy and KD

mummykimmy KD and wee man

mummykimmy KD hands crossed

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Nearly there…

I am one day overdue.

mummykimmy pregnant

It’s such a weird thing waiting to give birth. Every twinge gets your hopes up. I had powerful Braxton Hicks last week for three days which obviously did a great job because when the midwife came on Monday she said I was very close. She said the magic words: “I’ll be very disappointed if you need to be induced” as she did the paperwork and booked my induction for the 19th anyway.

Since I’ve stopped work, the only thing preventing me enjoying this unique time in my life is my super-demanding son, who is taking full advantage of mummy’s temporary disability. I think the worst day was at a large park, when he took off and would not come back. When I eventually caught up with him, he fought my every effort to take him back, screaming, kicking and full-on lying down on the ground and refusing to move. I part carried, part dragged him back to the car, which took a full 20 minutes, and then refused to speak to him for the rest of the afternoon. Carrying him had really f*cking hurt my back, completely screwed up my delicately balanced pelvis and just broken my heart a bit that he should behave so badly.

mummykimmy wee man

But.

This last week he has made a few breakthroughs. We have very nearly cracked the potty training. We have found a workaround for the sleep issues. He is behaving beautifully in his new nursery class and seems to be very popular. He’s eating really well and being very affectionate. If he could just have mummy’s attention 24/7 (including sleeping wrapped around me) then he would be an angel. I’m finding it all quite emotionally sensitive to deal with, but at least I am resting at home those days he is at nursery so I can give him a lot more time and energy when he comes home.

mummykimmy auntie Vick

The other thing that has made a huge difference to me has been getting more help. Rod has reduced his working week to five days so he is now at home on Thursdays and Sundays, which both the wee man and I LOVE. My mum has been up to stay, my sister-in-law has just left after helping out for three days and we have visits from my brother-in-law and in-laws to look forward to. Being left in charge of such a boisterous kid alone, while feeling so physically restricted, has been difficult for me these past few months. It’s been so frustrating saying the words “I can’t manage that”…

mummykimmy kitchen knobs

Not for much longer! I’ve ticked every job off my maternity-leave list – the hall cupboard is organised, all the wee man’s baby kit and clothes have been cleaned for number two, I’ve replaced all the knobs on my kitchen cupboards and, for once, I am on top of the laundry. I am now at the daytime-TV stage. Current obsessions include “Double your house for half the money”; “Without a Trace” and, of course, “Supernanny”. Today I have bleached everything white, mopped everything flat and hoovered everything fluffy.

I am ready.

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New room for the baby

Our spare room has always annoyed me.

It was originally designed as a garage, although the first owners 25 years ago had no car so it was built as a reception room. They had it as a dining room three steps down from the living room, then the guy we bought the house from put up a partition wall and made it a bedroom. The only thing is, he left the steps and just stuck up some shelves. It always felt a bit unfinished, but was a perfectly usable spare room after a coat of paint.

As a baby’s room though, we knew it needed some TLC.

Finding a joiner in Aberdeen was my first challenge – the first guy came round, spent half an hour advising me – and then never even sent through a quote! Two others scared the beejesus out of me with their figures – and then I found Zsolt. He was recommended by my accountant, who told me he submitted the tidiest books she’d ever seen, so that was a good omen. His quote was very reasonable, he was pleasant, he called and arrived when he said he would, so we were happy to give him the job – and what a gem he turned out to be! Reliable, tidy, and a real perfectionist – I am absolutely delighted with the work he and his assistant carried out.

They pulled back two walls where, as we suspected, we found the insulation was completely inadequate and showing signs of mould. An unexpected concrete column didn’t allow any space for insulation, hence the draft and condensation we always found in that corner. Zsolt built the wall out two inches to allow him to insulate around it, then put up new plasterboard and taped and filled it – no need for plaster and the three-day-drying-out period.

The old frame before it was built out slightly to allow insulation around the stone column

The old frame before it was built out slightly to allow insulation around the stone column

Insulation around the window was also woeful - I'm so glad we fixed it!

Insulation around the window was also woeful – I’m so glad we fixed it!

It was the solution to the weird steps-and-shelves arrangement that made me happiest. Turns out Zsolt is a master craftsman and a carpenter to trade – his real passion is building furniture. The wardrobe he fashioned out of the space is just beautiful. He also suggested a hanging rail which could be pulled down for easier access, and gave me lots of options for shelving in the other half. So we went from this:

mummykimmy refurb3

to this:

mummykimmy refurb5

then this:

mummykimmy refurb6

and this:

mummykimmyrefurb8

How gorgeous is that?

To finish off a great job, they painted the whole room white, including all the woodwork around the window and the skirtings and then, because he had half an hour before he had to leave, Zsolt went round all the doors in my house adjusting hinges and shaving bases so that they all now close silently.

Did I hit the jackpot or what? It was the least I could do to hand him a cheque before he left. As a self-employed person myself I reckon prompt payment is the best way to show your appreciation for a job well done. I am also going to keep in touch so that in the new year, when he finishes a big restoration project, I can get him some press coverage and redesign his website. Rod and I are also now seriously considering building an extension rather than moving – if Zsolt is in charge, it will be a work of art.

The carpet arrived yesterday, the new single bed is coming tomorrow and a blackout blind is being fitted next week. We’ll build the cot and put up some pictures, fill the wardrobe with all the freshly washed and folded baby clothes and see if we can even fit the rocking chair in.

I’m due in three weeks – and I’m more excited than ever to spend lots of time in my beautiful new room.

Complete with new carpet - just some furniture and a blind to come and we're ready for you, baby!

Complete with new carpet – just some furniture and a blind to come and we’re ready for you, baby!

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What’s this strange feeling?

I’m feeling a surprising emotion right now – I think it’s called… relaxed.

I’m trying to figure out why.

I think it’s because I had nothing in the diary today, except a nail appointment at 3.30 to get rid of the gel polish that chipped about three days ago. Clean nails, as my friend Jenny will agree, is a very quick route to relaxation.

I think it’s also got something to do with my finally feeling better after a stomach bug and a lot to do with the sun shining all day long and my getting four loads of washing hung outside.

It’s what was hanging on my beloved whirligig, though, that’s given me this warm, happy glow.

mummykimmy baby clothes on the line

At ten o’clock this morning, with the wee man safely off to nursery and the joiners working tidily in the spare room, I sat on the floor in front of Homes Under the Hammer with a can of Dr Pepper and two huge airtight storage bags.

Inside were all the wee man’s baby clothes from birth to 12 months.

I spent a nostalgic half hour going through them all, separating out all the white, yellow and green stuff, remembering who had given us each and every outfit. Some of the stuff is just so gorgeous that I don’t even care if it’s a girl, she’ll go out dressed in blue. I mean LOOK at this snow suit!

mummykimmy blue snowsuit

As I waited for the washing machine cycles to end I ticked a whole load of small tasks off my list – you know those little tasks that always get bumped to your “one day I’ll get round to it” list – like copying over those massive video files to free up half your hard drive? I did some filing, put away the Asda shop, made a menu for the next week (yes I still do that) and generally reclaimed that feeling of control that has been so absent from my life lately.

To top off a splendid day, the wee man came willingly home from nursery, ate a whole plate of tuna salad and gave me lots of lovely kisses and cuddles. Then an amazing thing happened. Daddy came home early! The wee man just about burst with excitement when he spotted him through the window and cannoned into him even harder than usual. Off they went to play and I realised that, with the chicken roasting in the oven (great menu planning) I could actually just…. Go and sit down. So here I am blogging, with a neat little pile of folded newborn babygros next to me and unchipped nails and a clean house and a roast chicken in the oven.

I could get used to this.

The end of Shellac - it's the end of an era…

The end of Shellac – it’s the end of an era…

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No room for the muse…

The muse has temporarily deserted me.

I used to really look forward to writing a new mum blog post, those days something funny happened or life taught me a valuable lesson. It would be a treat to open the laptop, upload the photos and indulge my creative writing hobby while the wee man slept.

Maybe that’s been the problem – the lack of sleep.

The naps – those wonderful oases in our crazy days – are long gone, and this summer the 12-hour-straight slumbers from 7.30pm have also disappeared. Some nights it’s been 9pm before he’s finally conked out, only to be up again three hours later. Those nights there’s just time to eat something before passing out ourselves.

But something else pretty big and important has taken over my life recently, and it’s no exaggeration to say it has totally floored me. Pregnancy.

It’s been a totally different experience from first time round. I haven’t enjoyed it at all. I’ve felt generally under the weather the whole time – bone tired, over-emotional, nauseous, achey and completely lacking in energy. I’ve fought it, of course. I’ve taken the supplements, eaten healthily, drunk lots of water, tried to stay active (even though my pelvis has had to be realigned and I’m doing physio every day) and clung to my perspectacles. I’ve made huge efforts to stay rational, to count my blessings that the baby’s been growing healthily, to control the tears and rages, and to continue to be a good mum to the wee man. It’s been a huge effort, especially for a woman with no energy.

Filming for the local business news broadcast - and hiding the bump!

Filming for the local business news broadcast – and hiding the bump!

My business, meanwhile, has taken off. It’s been the best trading year yet. It’s been my escape, living three days a week in a world where success can be measured and to do lists can be achieved. I’ve formulated and delivered effective strategies, returned to some proper journalism, met interesting new contacts and received praise for jobs well done. I’ve felt in control and successful, a nice contrast to toddler battles and a body that challenges me in some new way every day.

mummykimmy press call

Now though, I am four weeks away from my due date. I have finally, and reluctantly, gone on mat leave. The wee man has moved up a class at nursery and now goes three and a half days, which are more evenly spread out during the week. We have found a second babysitter – a trainee paediatric nurse who lives locally – and who the wee man loves. The sleeping has improved – though he is still up once or twice through the night – and even I have to admit that the headspace freed up by not working has allowed me to relax a bit.

Four weeks to go...

Four weeks to go…

I’ve bought myself a new notebook, glued the scan pictures into the first pages and started writing lists. Baby names, suggestions from other mums, things to organise before the wee one arrives… and I’m excited! I’m looking forward to having time alone at home to nest. I can’t wait to go through all the wee man’s old baby clothes and wash anything white, yellow or green. I’m delighted the joiner is coming to build a fitted wardrobe in the baby’s room and paint the whole place white. I’m even up for the challenge of scrubbing the pram and car seat.

I feel a sense of achievement already. And maybe the muse is returning…

 

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Filed under Aberdeen, health, pregnancy, pregnancy & health, pregnancy & work, sleep

10 ways to cope: 7 months pregnant with with a three year old son

1 Take a hot shower every morning.

This will sound ridiculous to the childless and probably to the mums too, for different reasons. You will likely have to do it with the door open, possibly dodge missiles and awkward questions and potentially have to catch flying electrical goods before they zap you, but it sets you up for a good day. Even if your hair has to air dry /ends up only half-straightened/is scraped off your face into a bun, at least you and it are clean and refreshed.

2 Reinstate old tools

He may have been walking for more of his life than not, but if he’s suddenly he’s clicked that you can no longer catch him and runs off at every opportunity, I see no problem with hauling out the reins. The wee man has a little rucksack with a long strap – I’ve clicked it on to a strap from another similar bag and now I have, effectively, a dog leash for my child. In my defence, I’m having major pelvic issues with this pregnancy and can barely walk let alone sprint after him, and he’s developed a bad habit of running into the sea fully-clothed. This way I can venture out in public without suffering a heart attack/getting soaked to the thighs.mummykimmy reins

3 Don’t be afraid of the same-old

We used to have a new adventure every day. My mum used to warn me not to do too much, but I enjoyed these voyages of discovery in our new city as much as the wee man. Now though, I accept that I’ll probably have to pee a lot and must never be too far from the loo. I can never venture so far from the car that I’m stuck with a mid-tantrum child who doesn’t want to leave and who I can’t lift and carry back. I can’t cope with him AND the enormous bag with clothing for every surface and weather condition. So we go to the same places that I know he enjoys and whose facilities I can rely on – just for now.

4 Adopt a zero-tolerance policy to bad behaviour

He’s probably figured out that something really big is about to happen and mummy is not herself, so is pushing even harder at the boundaries. If he’s difficult now, how the hell will I cope with two? By making it crystal clear what is not acceptable. That means nipping everything in the bud, making him sit the full three minutes on the naughty step, taking the time to make him follow instructions and finding new ways to make my point. I’ve discovered that simply disengaging, ignoring him completely and putting him in his room with the stair-gate across while I clean up the mess from the kitchen bin he just “accidentally” dragged through and tipped onto the living room carpet, is very effective. A lot of his bad behaviour is simply for attention – if I withdraw that and only reinstate it when he’s apologised and is behaving well, it sends a clear message.

5 Find new fun, sitting-down games

My child has more energy than Ussain Bolt on Red Bull, so most of our activities involve wide open spaces and a ball. This weekend, though, I braved baking – and it was a huge success. I was really pleasantly surprised how well he listened and concentrated and managed. I just bought a cake mix from M&S, put all the extra ingredients in coloured bowls and supervised while he did most of it. He loved the independence and the space to just get on with it, he loved using the electric whisk and he seemed to take real pride in spooning the mixture evenly into the cases. There was some mess, of course, but nothing like what I expected. He even enjoyed the washing up. I gave him lots of praise and he lapped it up – all while I sat on my (expanding) ass. Guess what we’ll be doing every week now?

mummykimmy baking

6 Don’t feel guilty for taking time off

It is a physical impossibility to live your life at the same pace when you’re so pregnant, so just embrace it. (or so I keep telling myself). If there’s a creche at your gym, don’t think twice about booking him in then buggering off to the coffee shop. Accept every offer of help, no matter how much you may suspect they’re just being nice and don’t really mean it. I am definitely a much better mum when I’ve had a break, even a wee short one, and especially an indulgent one where I’ve done nothing but read a few chapters of my book.

7 Be realistic about work

Hahaha. I’m still working on this one. A friend advised me, a few months ago when I was telling him about this amazing new project I’d been invited to get involved in, “remember you’re going to be, like, ill for six months”. I spluttered into my decaf latte and told him to stop being so sexist. But the b*stard had a point. I’ve got eight weeks to go and I already feel disabled – tired, emotional, yes ill a lot of the time. As the realisation has dawned on me that I am not, in fact, superwoman, I have turned down two new clients and brought forward my end date. I’m now super-excited about the fact I will have the whole of September to get my shit together for the baby coming, nest, relax, and sleep!

8 Eat and drink well

Aware that my running days were over pretty much in the first trimester, I had been trying to cut down on treats. The whole ‘eating for two’ thing is a myth, right? I comforted myself that the morning sickness was an insurance policy against too much weight gain. Ha. When you haven’t slept properly for weeks, your three year old is pushing every button and you aren’t even allowed a calming glass of wine, cake is the only answer. No, actually giant cookies work too. And slabs of chocolate. As for trying not to drink too much to cut down on the endless trips to the bathroom – well, that seemed to make sod all difference. I now have a pint of squash on hand at all times and have become completely addicted to San Pellegrino. It’s like when you’re hungover to hell and think, well, even if I bring this McDonalds right back up, at least I’ll have something to be sick with.

9 Take it easy on your husband

Men will never fully understand what it is to be pregnant, and thank God for that, or the world would surely implode. I’m doing my best to keep the psycho outbursts to a minimum and I try to be rational about the things that are bothering me. Rod has been wonderful with the wee man – this morning he got up, made breakfast and entertained him before taking him out swimming so I could have the morning off. The fact that he left Play Doh all over the table, the milk, butter and juice all out on the counter, the toys strewn everywhere and the plates on top of the dishwasher (which I had switched on last night) was not important. I cleared it all up with good humour and not once did I mutter “could he not tidy as he goes?” I didn’t even mention it to him when they got back. Honest.

10 If in doubt, laugh and say ‘f*ck it’

As overwhelming, tiring and goddamn frustrating as it is to be heavily pregnant and in charge of a three year old – there are worse things. Sometimes I struggle to believe that, but it’s true. So what if people keep hilariously remarking, “Are you sure you’re not having twins?”. So what if I’m endlessly tired cos I’m either settling the wee man who’s doing his newborn impression or relieving my bladder. So I’m gasping for a cocktail, dying to go shopping and making old lady noises every time I get off the couch. It’s not for much longer – and then that’s me done with having babies. So haha, f*ck it, let’s just enjoy the experience…

mummykimmy rod and wee man

 

 

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Filed under Aberdeen, pregnancy, pregnancy & health, pregnancy & work