Giving to Grampian Women’s Aid

I’ve been struggling a wee bit adjusting to life as a mum of two. Mostly because I’m knackered but also because there are a million hormones making me crazy and I’m living in a city 150 miles away from most of my family. When you’re feeling low and a bit lonely, all you want is for someone to say to you, “It’s OK, I’ll help you.” I find it hard to ask for help, but as soon as I do, I get it, from my husband, my family and friends.

Not everyone is so blessed.

KD is growing so fast that I have a load of beautiful clothes he”s only worn once. I wanted them to go to someone who needed them, so I called Grampian Women’s Aid. The girl on the phone listened to me describe what I had and said: “Well we’re moving offices so we aren’t really accepting donations right now, but I can think of a woman who would really appreciate all that.”

That really got me. I immediately felt a personal connection with this woman and went back to the cupboard to find more to give her. After all, it had turned so cold, she’d need hats, mitts and blankets too.

I dropped off the bags this afternoon. I knew I couldn’t ask for any personal details, but I was told there were actually two babies on their way. “Are the women OK, are you supporting them?” I asked a bit pathetically. “Well obviously the circumstances aren’t ideal, but yes,” I was told. I suggested I could bring more clothes as KD outgrows them and she smiled and said that would be great.

I felt quite teary when I got back in the car. My gorgeous wee boy was asleep in his carseat and I had Christmas with my family to look forward to. Meanwhile one in four women are suffering from domestic abuse. It was too unfair.I wish I could do more. All I can hope is that these two women enjoy having some extra clothes for their beautiful new babies and that they feel like Women’s Aid has said “It’s OK, I’ll help you”.

I also hope that anyone reading this considers donating to their local Women’s Aid this Christmas.

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Survival tactics

The Buggyboard, the electric pump and the tumble dryer.

If you took those things away from me right now, I really would fall into the abyss. You know, the one whose edge you dance around as a new mum? Yesterday morning I was clinging onto the edge by two fingernails, with sore boobs, red eyes and a pickled brain, having had three broken hours sleep. I’d also STUPIDLY had a curry the night before so every feed was making KD crankier and crankier. I didn’t get near the shower until midday – and even then he was in the bouncer seat by the toilet wailing.

THANK GOD for the electric breastpump. I had only found the window to use it three nights previously, having finally pried off the limpet that is my second son, so three bottles of that white gold were sitting in the fridge. And they were non-curry flavoured. A bottle of that, as my hair dripped all over him, was the magic cure, so that he actually lay quietly in his pram while I whipped up scrambled eggs and ate them. Hot! AND put the dishes in the dishwasher afterwards.

Of course I then realised I had nothing to wear. I’d been so busy washing baby clothes in non-bio, towels and sheets for visitors and the Wee Man’s soiled clothes separately (the potty training has reversed since KD came along, though it is improving every day) that all my laundry was still heaped in the basket. I pulled on a pair of joggers that bit into my 6 week post natal belly – a cruel reminder that ‘getting fit’ was yet another thing to add to my endless list. I pulled all the leggings out the basket and chucked them in a quick wash, then tumble dried them, delighted to be able to breathe properly again.

The final trial of the day was collecting the Wee Man from nursery. The rain had eventually stopped so, mindful of the Jogger Incident, I walked up to collect him. I had dreaded this task throughout my pregnancy. He is always knackered after nursery and likely to scream, throw a tantrum or just plain run off into the sunset. I’d tried every bribery tactic and restraining gadget in the book (and often just driven the 500 yards) when turns out all I’d needed was a Buggyboard. Now he kisses KD, jumps on the board and yells “BRRRRRROOOOOOOM” all the way home. I bought it for £25 from a woman on Gumtree who’d never used it and it even came with a little lead to clip it up and out the way. Amazing invention. I’m grateful for it every day.

Oh yeah – and there is one more thing you couldn’t ever take away from me. I mean I suppose I could manage without those three things, if there was a power cut or something, but this thing must always be in my cupboard. There must also always be the two things that go with it, otherwise I’d just end up sitting in the corner rocking and mumbling “twinkle twinkle”.

Lime.

Diet Pepsi.

Golden Rum.

Best buds

Best buds

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Filed under Aberdeen, baby kit, health, Newborn

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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Filed under Aberdeen, fashion, Newborn

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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Filed under Aberdeen, birth

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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Filed under pregnancy

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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Filed under Aberdeen, baby kit, home

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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Filed under Aberdeen, fashion, pregnancy